Chatting with Dr. Tanya Harrison on PBS

I had a blast chatting with my good friend Dr. Tanya Harrison, who’s writing for PBS Terra on a new series called “Uncharted Expeditions”! This segment is about how the isolated environments found the Antarctic can help us understand the challenges we will face on deep space expeditions. As you’ll see, Tanya has a real knack for getting to the heart of a story. Note that I filmed on location from the Holiday Inn Express in Iquique, Chile (hence the uninspired background).

A Few Photos from Chile

Just a few quick snaps from our time doing fieldwork in Chile. The Atacama is truly the most Mars-like place on Earth! I feel like I’ve learned so much about how to interpret our rover data from spending time in this remarkable environment.

And check out this sulfate outcrop…. If my foot weren’t in there, you might think it was a workspace image from Curiosity.

These sulfate veins look just like what we see in Gale crater!

Total Eclipse 2024 Report

Over the weekend, I headed to the eclipse totality path via Texas. The wind is crazy but the sky is clear. I stopped at Cadillac Ranch, Ozymandias of the Plains, and the Leaning Tower of Texas. Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

We diverted northward due to clouds and eventually found a reasonably clear spot at a rest stop in Arkansas. At first, the sun looked whole, but we all knew that the moon was up there lurking somewhere.

Then, things got noticeably dimmer! And then I discovered that the person we parked behind was also from Los Alamos.

Finally, we saw the awesome sight of totality. It was suddenly dark and cold, and Venus and Jupiter appeared. It looked like sunset in all directions. We saw bright red solar prominences on the disc margins. A remarkable reminder that we live on a planet.

How do we find meaning in the universe?

“So many cosmic things had to happen for this moment to be here.”

I’m so pleased to share this beautiful, thoughtful episode of Dispatches from The Well from Big Think in which host Kmele Foster discusses the future of our planet and humankind with Sean Carroll, Kevin Kelly, and me. This is the last episode in the seven-part series. I loved every single episode, and have found myself thinking about many of them long after I finished watching.

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Dr. Nina Lanza

Dr. Nina Lanza is the Team Lead for Space and Planetary Exploration in Space and Remote Sensing (ISR-2) at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She is the Principal Investigator for the ChemCam instrument onboard the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover and a science team member for the SuperCam instrument onboard the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover. Her current research focuses on understanding the origin and nature of manganese minerals on Mars and how they may serve as potential biosignatures. Dr. Lanza has authored or coauthored 50 peer-reviewed publications, including two first-author book chapters. Read full bio

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