Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, August 11, 2012

MVNews this week:  Page 9



 Mountain Views News Saturday August 11, 2012 


An image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment 
(HiRISE) camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter 
(MRO) captured the Curiosity rover still connected to its 51-foot-wide 
parachute as it descended towards its landing site at Gale Crater.

 “If HiRISE had taken the image one second before or one second 
after, we probably would be looking at an empty Martian landscape,” 
said Sarah Milkovich, HiRISE investigation scientist at JPL. “When 
you consider that we have been working on this sequence since March 
and had to upload commands to the spacecraft about 72 hours prior 
to the image being taken, you begin to realize how challenging this 
picture was to obtain.”

 The image of Curiosity on its parachute is on the right.

 The image was taken while MRO was 211 miles away from the 
parachuting rover. Curiosity and its rocket-propelled backpack, 
contained within the conical-shaped back shell, had yet to be deployed. 
At the time, Curiosity was about two miles above the Martian surface.

 “Guess you could consider us the closest thing to paparazzi on Mars,” 
said Milkovich. “We definitely caught NASA’s newest celebrity in the 

 The rover Curiosity, NASA’s latest contribution to the Martian 
landscape, landed at 10:32 p.m. Aug. 5, PDT (1:32 a.m. Aug. 6, EDT) 
near the foot of a mountain three miles tall inside Gale Crater, 96 miles 
in diameter.

 In other Curiosity news, one part of the rover team at the JPL 
continues to analyze the data from the landing while another continues 
to prepare the one-ton mobile laboratory for its future explorations of 
Gale Crater. One key assignment given to Curiosity for its first full day 
on Mars was to raise its high-gain antenna. Using this antenna will 
increase the data rate at which the rover can communicate directly with 
Earth. The mission will use relays to orbiters as the primary method 
for sending data home, because that method is much more energy-efficient for the rover.

 Curiosity carries 10 science instruments with a total mass 15 times as large as the science 
payloads on the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Some of the tools are the first of their 
kind on Mars, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking rocks’ elemental composition 
from a distance. Later in the mission, the rover will use a drill and scoop at the end of its 
robotic arm to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sift and parcel out 
these samples into analytical laboratory instruments inside the rover.

 To handle this science toolkit, Curiosity is twice as long and five times as heavy as Spirit or 
Opportunity. The Gale Crater landing site places the rover within driving distance to layers 
of the crater’s interior mountain. Observations from orbit have identified clay and sulfate 
minerals in the lower layers, indicating a wet history.


 The image of Curiosity on its parachute:

 Pieces from Curiosity landing on the ground as seen from Orbiter:

 Image taken from Curiosity showing Mt. Sharp:

 You can contact Bob Eklund at:



 A little disclaimer: This article is geared more toward the ladies. But perhaps 
it might also help you guys better understand the ladies in your life.


The other day my dad told me about an interesting article he read. A 
study found that when women see other women one of the first things 
they notice is the others’ weight. He waited for me to join him in laughing 
at the ridiculousness of it. I looked at him blankly, “And?... That’s it?” I could’ve told him 
that without conducting a study.

 Men and women are different. That’s something learned before kindergarten. We’re all 
familiar with the stereotypes that women are more emotional, and that men prefer action to 
commiseration. But another major difference is that (generally speaking) women are more 
likely to have “fat on the brain.” 

 Kate Winslet is a classic example of this. 
“Titanic” celebrated its 15th anniversary with a 3D 
makeover a few months ago. In an interview, Kate 
described the trauma of seeing what she looked 
like back then in 3D on the big screen. Why so 
scared, Kate? It was because she couldn’t stand 
the sight of herself weighing as much as she did at 
that time. She later remarked that “[Leo’s] fatter 
now --I’m thinner.” “How shallow!” you say. But I 
know just how she feels.

 What’s truly sad is that women’s weight obsession 
doesn’t end after graduating from high school, 
becoming a parent, or being eligible for AARP. 
I had lunch with some of my retired friends the 
other week, and nearly every topic touched on 
weight at some point. “I need to lose weight.” 
“Well, certainly not much. You look great!” “No, I 
want to lose at least 35 pounds.” “Wow! You don’t 
look like you’ve gained that much. Where?” “Here 
(poke). Here (poke). And here (shake).”

 For a while it was cool for thin women to laugh 
and swear that they eat burgers all the time, and 
the only exercise they get is when they’re shopping. And overweight women are praised for 
“seeing the beauty” in their bodies, and “loving themselves just the way they are.” Hey, if 
they’re happy, I say “more power to them!”

 But in both cases, the women are implying that they are “above” the trivial preoccupation 
with their weight. It’s bad enough having constant awareness about your weight, but to feel 
guilty about being aware --that’s just too much! So that’s why it’s comforting to hear women 
like Gwen Stefani shamelessly talk about “torturing herself” with exercise and dieting to stay 
thin. (Yes, I’ve blown another night reading too much “Mail Online.”) No one should have 
to live with weight-consciousness guilt! Self acceptance can include accepting your body the 
way it is. But it’s also about accepting the fact the you may have fat on the brain, as I, and 
many other women, do. And I’m not going to feel guilty about it! 

 Technological advances have made it possible to connect with nearly anyone anywhere 
in the world, but somehow it seems that we have become less social than ever before. With 
the invention and widespread use of the telephone we could talk to family and friends or 
conduct business without leaving home. Mobile phones made it possible to call for roadside 
assistance or take a call on the go. Internet access allowed us to connect and virtually meet 
people we would never would have been able to otherwise. Chat rooms, message boards and 
forums allowed us to carry on conversations with people from anywhere in the world. Now 
we have always-on cell phones, text-messaging, 4G Internet access, wi-fi hot spots…the list 
goes on. The internet is - and by extension, we ourselves are - everywhere. Most people carry 
an internet-accessible device wherever they go so that they’ll never miss a message. In short, 
we are connected to a degree that was never before imagined possible. 

 We no longer need to meet face-to-face or dial a number to ask a question, make a 
statement or carry on a conversation. It’s faster, easier and more convenient to shoot off a 
quick email or text message...even faster to update a Twitter or Facebook status and say the 
same thing to hundreds of people at once. We have hundreds or thousands of online friends 
from different areas of the world. When we’re bored or lonely, there’s no shortage of online 
friends to occupy our time. We can interact with people the world over with out the muss 
and fuss of actually interacting with a human. 

 Children now have their own phones, their own computers and other devices to connect 
with the online world. As early as elementary school, they learn to access lessons and 
instruction on a computer. They work on a computer when they need extra help rather than 
ask the teacher or another student for assistance. Kids are encouraged to go online and find 
answers and information, rather than explore the topic through observation and meaningful 
conversation. At home they use social media and text messaging to communicate with their 
friends and family members. 

 What are we really teaching the younger generation? As adults, what kind of example are 
we setting ourselves? The lessons learned may not be the lessons intended, but the more we 
connect to the virtual world, the more we disconnect from the real world. We all know the 
advantages of being connected in various ways. Too often the disadvantages are overlooked 
or ignored. Maybe we’re too connected to see how disconnected we’ve become. 

 Life online has its own style of communication There is no real communication going on 
and the ability to carry on a meaningful conversation with a real person suffers, often to the 
point where the machine interaction is preferred to real human interaction. It often seems 
that the younger generation prefer to text their friends for hours, rather than go out and do 
something together. Adults often fall into the same trap - answering texts and emails when 
they could be interacting with the people in their lives that truly matter. 

 Unfortunately, it seems that the more comfortable we get communicating with machines, 
the less comfortable we are communicating with real people. It seems that we expect more 
from technology and less from each other.