Rover Talk in Huntsville

Huntsville is a really cool place to live, as I have said many times. I am reminded why I like it when cool talks are being given like the one I heard last week at the Huntsville/Madison County Public Library. I have been a member of the Huntsville chapter of the National Space Society since 1994. HAL5 has been doing some great outreach in our community to raise the visibility of space exploration and things relating to it. For the club’s October meeting, the guest speaker was Planetary Scientist Dr. Barbara Cohen speaking on Mars rovers. This is obviously a very hot topic right now due to the latest successful landing of Curiosity.

She covered the highlights of successful rover programs to include Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, and then Curiosity. Let’s face it: The idea that there is a full-size car/rover at this very moment driving around on Mars looking for evidence of life in a very cool region of the planet is just amazing. The general public is eating it up. Dr. Cohen talked about Curiosity and the huge crater near three-mile-tall Mount Sharp which rises from the center of Gale Crater. This region is rich with interesting geography/topography. They already see major evidence of past water being a land mass mover. Curiosity has some cool tools with which to explore rocks and soil, too. Dr. Cohen mentioned the 30 mj laser used to cook rocks and look at them optically and the related spectrum to decide its makeup that could include carbon which is critical for life!

I really enjoyed this talk and the IHOP experience after it. These talks are held monthly and they are a great way to interface with the science community and just have some fun. Space Exploration is also very cool! I am looking forward to what Curiosity might dig up and discover. Let’s stay tuned and keep looking up!