Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
With Hot Science – Cool Talks in full swing this fall, there is a great presentation scheduled for this Friday, October 18 at 7pm. Dr. John Grotizinger, lead scientist for the Mars Curiosity Rover, is coming back to UT Austin to talk all about what the Mars Rover has discovered since landing on the Red Planet. This is going to be a fascinating talk.
And don’t forget there will be lots of great pre-lecture activities starting at 5:45 pm. There will be all sorts of interactive displays and engaging activities. They’re especially geared to kids ages K-12, but the whole family will enjoy them.
A professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College, Dr. Orr will talk about “Black Swans” as infrequent and unpredictable events that drive change in human and natural systems. This summer, I wondered if invasive species could trigger a black swan event, such as with the Mediterranean Sea and Oregon incidents.
The “Hot Science. Cool Talks.” presentations are fantastic for kids of all ages, but especially for middle and high school students. (I should add elementary students too since as young Commander Ben, I was able to meet Dr. John Grotzinger at a presentation in 2005. Dr. Grotzinger is now a project scientist for the Mars Science Laboratory that is part of the Curiosity Mars rover.)
Invasive Hunter Academy coming to Hot Science – Cool Talks
I’m sorry that I’ll miss this Friday’s presentation, but I’ll be at the “Lights. Camera. Help.” Focus on Good Film Festival! My Native Plant Avengers video about Texas wildflowers banding together to fight invasive species was selected to be shown at the festival.
I’ll bring fun activities to help kids learn about invasive species, and I’ll have special information about the Giant Reed, an invasive species that threatens our water and riparian ecosystems, for this special event.
Thanks Mr. Geoff Hensgen, Outreach coordinator, and Dr. Jay Banner, Director of the UT Austin Environmental Science Institute, for inviting me to join your wonderful event!
Tomorrow night brings another great historical milestone for astronomy and for the possibility of discovering alien life.
The newest Mars rover, Curiosity, will land on the red planet at 12:30 a.m. CT, Monday morning, August 6, 2012. This rover contains the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), which NASA scientists will use to investigate if life existed or still exists on Mars.
After it gets settled, the rover will bring the laboratory to Gale Crater to drill into Martian rock, collect and heat up dust, and examine the emitted gases to detect the minerals or organic molecules contained in the minerals.
When watching the animated video of the Curiosity Rover landing, “Challenges of Getting to Mars: Curiosity’s Seven Minutes of Terror”, at the top of my blog post, I noticed that it wasn’t a “bouncing” landing like the earlier rover landing as shown in the NASA animated video of the 2003 Mars rover.
The Curiosity Rover has a sky crane that will help it land slowly and safely in the rough terrain and to keep a dust cloud from damaging the instruments on the rover.
Mars Landing Party Hosted by the Austin Planetarium
Get tasty snacks, including real astronaut ice cream and drinks
9:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. – Adult activities and the lander live
Hear from science speakers
Watch live feeds from NASA with the latest updates from the lander
Listen to live music
12:30 a.m. – Watch the Curiosity Rover touch down on the Mars surface!!!!
I’m really looking forward to seeing the live landing. (Actually, almost live since it takes the rover’s signal 14 minutes to reach Earth.) It’s going to be a blast!
Update: Hooray! The Mars rover, Curiosity, landed safely. How exciting to learn that Dr. John Grotzinger is a research scientist for the Mars Science Laboratory. As young Commander Ben, I met Dr. Grotzinger in 2005 at a UT Austin Environmental Science Institute Hot Science. Cool Talks. presentation.
Austin Planetarium at Hot Science – Cool Talks
Commander Ben and the Austin Planetarium team at UT Austin before Dr. Brittany Schmidt’s Hot Science – Cool Talks Presentation
I had a chance to meet the Austin Planetarium team and take part in their fun activities twice earlier this year as part of the great UT Austin Environmental Science Institute’s Hot Science – Cool Talks presentations:
You’ll find fun, interactive activities before every Hot Science – Cool Talks presentation. For example, before Dr. Schmidt’s talk, I entered the Austin Planetarium’s Discovery Dome. The speaker inside the planetarium used a computer to control a projector that led us through the night sky and zoomed in on Jupiter and its Galilean moons.
Dr. Schmidt thought that if there was life on Mars, it existed in the past and we would only find fossils today. Europa may have a greater chance of having life currently because this moon contains liquid water under its frozen surface.
Whether there’s life in space or not, there’s certainly life teeming in Austin for everyone who’s scientifically curious!