JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools

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The essence of exploration

January 23rd, 2004 · No Comments

Yesterday the girls and I – all 3 of the girls, in fact – enjoyed watching the Mars movies at the NASA M2K4 flash site – wow, what pictures! Seeing the planet rotate, spinning around in three dimensions, amazed me. Looking at the craters, the volcano, the cute rovers…

Of course, the big news yesterday was that the rover Spirit was no longer responding to NASA. (In the time between writing this and posting this, it looks like Spirit is sending data again ..”sick but not dead”. Also new pics from the European Mars Express too…we could become junkies at this rate..)

But Opportunity, the other rover, is scheduled to land on Mars tomorrow (in our time zone). Since we haven’t seen any TV footage, we marveled at the pictures of Mars and the rover’s landing on the surface, looking like a bunch of bubbles, or pillows or a funny bunch of white grapes bouncing on the surface. We downloaded two movies (with our new unlimited bandwidth!), one about selecting landing sites on Mars, and the other about places on Earth that resemble the red planet (Iceland!). Fun! It even captured Baby Elisabeth’s attention…

Today the girls and I made the JPL Mars Odyssey Aero-Box. I’m not sure Abigail and Michaela – or I for that matter- fully understand it, but we’re having fun talking about atmosphere, flying and watching the girls drag their paper models around on a string. NASA has other models and instructions for kids too.


On NPR’s Day to Day Thursday I heard about NASA’s Deep Impact project Send Your Name to a Comet (Funny how they are now experiencing server problems due to heavy traffic!) Ira Flatow seemed to describe it as a p.r. stunt for NASA, extrapolating as to what else might be sent into space – at a price – sometime in the future…but this time it’s free, all you have to do is enter your name and NASA will take care of the rest, allowing you to participate – in this strange indirect way – in creating a crater on a comet!

You can send your name crashing into Comet Tempel 1 by going to Send Your Name to a Comet. Once you have filled in and submitted the form, your name will be recorded along with many others on a disc mounted on the impactor spacecraft. You may choose to print out a personalized commemorative certificate. Bookmark your certificate for later viewing and tell your friends, so they can send their name to a comet as well!

Not sure how I feel about participating in this space stunt/experiment and creating more debris by putting my name on a short-lived CD. Looks like there’s already plenty of Leungs on board anyway….

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