The astonishment continues…

Fantastic week.

 

On Thursday morning I met with my mentor Mike Lee again, took a trip to the Micro Devices Lab (where I’ll be working for much of my internship), and then attended an awe-inspiring presentation on “The Future of Robotic Space Exploration” given by Dr. Randii Wessen, who has worked on and led many JPL projects and worn many hats here over the years. The good doctor walked us through some of JPL’s past, current, and future projects. Here are some of the slides from his presentation.

There are three of these located at different spots around the world, so that they can watch the whole sky all the time, I believe I remember Randii saying.

There are three of these located at different spots around the world, so that they can watch the whole sky all the time, I believe I remember Randii saying.

This slide is pretty amazing. Our eyes can't see most of the light in the universe.

This slide is pretty amazing. Our eyes can’t see most of the light in the universe.

The 2020 Mars Rover will be very similar to Curiosity, except for some extra instruments. NASA and JPL plan to cache some samples for a future mission to retrieve and bring back to Earth.

The 2020 Mars Rover will be very similar to Curiosity and include some additional instruments. NASA and JPL plan to cache some Mars soil samples for a future mission to retrieve and bring back to Earth.

Maybe the difference in elevation and cratering between the north and south hemispheres is evidence of huge northern oceans that once covered nearly half of Mars.

Maybe the difference in elevation and cratering between the north and south hemispheres is evidence of huge northern oceans that once covered nearly half of Mars.

Here is a slide that shows how many discovered asteroids are zooming around our solar system besides the planets. Could be some huge ones on a collision course with Earth some day. "The dinosaurs went extinct because they didn't have a space program. And if we go extinct because we don't have a space program, it'll serve us right!" -Larry Niven

Here is a slide that shows how many discovered asteroids are zooming around our solar system. Could be some huge ones on a collision course with Earth some day in the near or distant future… “The dinosaurs went extinct because they didn’t have a space program. And if we go extinct because we don’t have a space program, it’ll serve us right!” -Larry Niven

Dr. Wessen remarked that when the orbiting Cassini satellite passes through Enceladus's plumes of water, the technical term used is "The Cassini Carwash."

Enceladus is a moon of Saturn with a frozen crust that covers at least one huge ocean of water and other volatiles, kept liquid presumably by an active core. Dr. Wessen remarked that when the orbiting Cassini satellite passes through the enormous plumes that erupt from the surface, the technical term used is “The Cassini Carwash.”

Yes, the Earth's atmosphere goes through cyclical CO2 fluctuations... But what is happening here?

Yes, the Earth’s atmosphere goes through cyclical CO2 fluctuations… But what is happening today? Dr. Wessen stressed the importance of drawing our own conclusions. Hey! This would be a great place to include a short research paper I recently wrote on the subject of political affiliation, information media, scientific consensus, and public opinion. Oops, can’t find it right this second, hopefully later.

The significance of this slide escaped me until Dr. Wessen explained that the Mars Opportunity Rover saw the pile of rocks and changed course by itself. Because it was programmed so well, of course.

The significance of this slide escaped me until Dr. Wessen explained that the Mars Opportunity Rover saw the pile of rocks and changed course autonomously. Because it was programmed so well, of course.

A great slide to close the presentation. I invited the speaker, Randii Wessen, to have lunch with me and some friends this Tuesday, and he graciously accepted. I have lots of questions for him. : )

A great slide to close the presentation. I invited the speaker, Randii Wessen, to have lunch with me and some friends this Tuesday, and he graciously accepted. I have lots of questions for him. : )

So that was Thursday, the fourth full day of my stay here so far. I feel time slipping through my fingers and want to soak up everything I can while I’m here. It’s Friday night as I write this post, and I’ll spend some of tomorrow slowing down refocusing on making the most of my internship.  And sightseeing. Some friends are planning a hike to check out the International Space Station as it passes over. I love this place.

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