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.
I had a great opportunity to talk with Dr. Jay Famiglietti about the water concerns that we face across the United States, about his work with the GRACE satellite mission, and about the 2012 film featuring him, Last Call at the Oasis. (It’s coming out tomorrow, November 6, 2012, on DVD and BlueRay!)
I published my video interview with Dr. Famiglietti in five parts with cool graphics from NASA and the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Click on the videos below to learn more about our water crisis that we face and ways that we, especially kids, can conserve water.
The GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellites launched in March 2002. Learn about the valuable data these twin satellites provide along with insight that hydrologic modeling brings with Dr. Famiglietti.
California’s Central Valley and the High Plains Aquifer in the central United States show high rates of water depletion. Dr. Jay Famiglietti talks about these areas of concern and ways that we could improve measuring our water supply.
If we found a way to have unlimited fresh water, would there be a population boom?What technological breakthrough do we need to transform sea water to fresh water easily and affordably? Learn about the water, energy, and food nexus with Dr. Famiglietti.
Dr. Famiglietti talks about the declining snowfall on the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the DVD and BlueRay release of his “Last Call at the Oasis” movie. You’ll also be surprised to learn about his favorite water sport.
My injured hand from taekwondo sparring has slowed me down 😦 , but I’m almost done with my post about the great time that I had during the Dr. Famiglietti’s Hot Science – Cool Talks event and the prelecture fun! 🙂
Thanks for the great interview, Dr. Famiglietti, and my wonderful thanks too to Dr. Jay Banner, Director of the UT Austin Environmental Science Institute (ESI); and Mr. Geoff Hensgen, ESI Outreach Coordinator, for the time to talk with Dr. Famiglietti!
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!
When I was looking through some of our old family photos, I found some of these wonderful pictures of me enjoying Hot Science – Cool Talks, when I was younger (and before I became an invasive hunter!).
Dr. Michael Webber, Co-Director of the Clean Energy Incubator at the Austin Technology Incubator, and Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin
Friday, February 24, 2012, at 7:00 p.m. CST
And then in April, I look forward to joining you and learning more about our universe: