Sunday, September 23, 2012

President's Signature On Board Curiosity

This view of Curiosity's deck shows a plaque bearing several signatures of US officials, including that of President Obama and Vice President Biden. The image was taken by the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) during the rover's 44th Martian day, or sol, on Mars (Sept. 19, 2012). The plaque is located on the front left side of the rover's deck. 

The main purpose of Curiosity's MAHLI camera is to acquire close-up, high-resolution views of rocks and soil at the rover's Gale Crater field site. The camera is capable of focusing on any target at distances of about 0.8 inch (2.1 centimeters) to infinity, providing versatility for other uses, such as views of the rover itself from different angles. 

Note the debris on the deck blown there during the landing.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


I like to collect robots just for fun. Here is one I found today and it a blast from my childhood. One of the popular cartoons on Saturday mornings was Hanna-Barbera's The Jetsons. Rosie was the Jetsons' robotic maid and was like a part of the family. We are still trying to achieve that dream. Maybe some day...

I found this Rosie at Toys-R-Us - complete with her duster - and couldn't resist.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Curiosity's Stars and Stripes

This view of the American flag medallion on NASA's Mars rover
Curiosity was taken by the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI)
during the 44th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars
(Sept. 19, 2012). The flag is one of four "mobility logos" placed on
the rover's mobility rocker arms.

The circular medallion of the flag is made of anodized aluminum
and measures 2.68 inches (68 millimeters) in diameter. The
medallion was affixed with bolts to locations on the rocker arms
where flight hardware was once considered, but ultimately
deemed unnecessary.

The other three medallions adorning the rover's rocker arms
are the NASA logo, the JPL logo and the Curiosity mission logo.

The main purpose of Curiosity's MAHLI camera is to acquire
close-up, high-resolution views of rocks and soil at the rover's
Gale Crater field site. The camera is capable of focusing on
any target at distances of about 0.8 inch (2.1 centimeters) to
infinity, providing versatility for other uses, such as views of the
rover itself from different angles.

Article and Photo: NASA/JPL

Friday, September 7, 2012

Mystery Bag Contents

The Mystery Bag that I ordered from Parallax on their 25th Anniversary arrived today. It contained the following goodies...S2 Robot Badge $5.99, Propeller Sticker $.99, Basic Stamp Carrier Board $14.99, 3 Wire Connector $1.99, Basic Stamp 2 $49.99, PIR Sensor $7.99, SoundPAL  $14.99, Propeller Chip $7.99 - for at Total of $104.92. 

A great deal for $25.00! Thanks Parallax...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Curiosity's Travel Map

This map shows the route driven by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity through the 29th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's mission on Mars (Sept. 4, 2012). 

The route starts where the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft placed the rover, a site subsequently named Bradbury Landing. The line extending toward the right (eastward) from Bradbury Landing is the rover's path. Numbering of the dots along the line indicate the sol numbers of each drive. North is up. The scale bar is 200 meters (656 feet).

By Sol 29, Curiosity had driven at total of 358 feet (109 meters). At the location reached by the Sol 29 drive, the rover began several sols of arm characterization activities. The Glenelg area farther east is the mission's first major science destination, selected as likely to offer a good target for Curiosity's first analysis of powder collected by drilling into a rock.

The image used for the map is from an observation of the landing site by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) instrument on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Text and Photo - NASA/JPL

Note: Be sure and click on the photo above to see a larger image. The surface sure looks rough and it is interesting to see how Curiosity is being routed. What an amazing achievement!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mystery Bag

The Parallax Gang
It is Parallax's 25th Anniversary. Parallax is my all time favorite maker of all sorts of robotic and electronic products, kits and supplies. They are also leaders in robotic's education and staffed with the best and friendliest people anywhere.

They are offering a Mystery Bag for sale to their customers - the page says, "Feeling adventurous? Take a chance and celebrate Parallax's Silver Anniversary with this $25 Mystery Bag! Contents contain products highlighting Parallax's epic history to spice up your electronics collection. $95.00 worth of products for just $25.00!"

I couldn't resist... it is on its way and I can't wait to see what is in there!

I love waiting for something to arrive in the mail - especially when it is a mystery! Congratulations Parallax!

25 years of fun!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Figure Eight Challenge

This is a video from the end of the 2011-2012 school year. The GatorBots ( the robotic's club I help lead) took a challenge made by Parallax Forum member erco to program a robot to drive a figure eight path. To help judge the exactness of the path, erco suggested the use of plates. We added "scribbling" the path with a marker on our white board - so you could really see the path...

This is our video entry in the challenge as posted on the Parallax Forums. May son has a crazy cameo at the end of the video...

Curiosity's Footprint

I posted here that Curiosity's wheels leave a Morse Code "footprint" of J.P.L. as they roll across the Martian surface. This dashes and dots help with odometry and visually checking for wheel slippage. Here is a new photo of the J.P.L. imprint in the rover's tracks and a little tribute to the code in Bobak's hair...

Flight director, Bobak "Mohawk Guy" Ferdowsi, pays tribute to the rover's "footprint" by spelling out JPL in Morse code on his hairdo.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Martian Soil on Curiosity's Wheels

Soil clinging to the right middle and rear wheels of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity can be seen in this image taken by the Curiosity's Navigation Camera after the rover's third drive on Mars. The drive of about 52 feet (16 meters) during the 22nd Martian day, or sol, of the mission (Aug. 28, 2012), covered more ground than the two previous drives combined.

Photo and Text from JPL