The first sample tube on Mars

Engineers test dropping a tube from a Perseverance replica. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

With this first sample tube deposited on the martian surface, we are one step closer to doing the very first sample return mission from Mars. These samples will be returned to Earth in 2033 for analysis (and reanalysis) in our terrestrial laboratories, which will answer many fundamental questions…and likely bring up a host of new questions as well!

Dust devils recorded on Mars (and a quote in The Atlantic)

Dust devils form on Mars for much the same reasons that they form on Earth: Turbulence in the atmosphere. Today, the surface of Mars is dominated by these wind-related processes. We can see in real time how wind moves materials across the planet and how these materials can gently scour rocks and accumulate, thereby changing the landscape.

I got to speak about Martian wind processes with Marina Koren at The Atlantic: “The Luckiest Rover” — Perseverance Captures Mars Dust Devil Sound, December 2022

From the summer: GRAPE 2022 Field Work in the Canadian Arctic

 ICYMI: Our Los Alamos National Laboratory health physics field coordinator James Harper tells the story of our Explorers Club Discovery Expedition #GRAPE2022 field work in the Canadian Arctic at Haughton Crater this summer.

Keeping Mars scientists safe in the Arctic Arctic by James Harper — What a radiological control technician supervisor was doing 600 miles north of the Arctic Circle with a team of Mars scientists

In his own words, James Harper, a health physics field coordinator at Los Alamos National Laboratory, gives a fascinating account of why he accompanied a team of the Laboratory’s Mars scientists this summer to a 31-million-year-old crater, 600 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Around the Lab, Harper provides radiation protection field support to workers carrying out national security missions. This unexpected assignment definitely broadened his horizons. 

James Harper: “Wow! The day I never expected has finally arrived. As I cross the threshold of the Boeing 737, I reflect. Several months have slowly passed until this point and now in a few short days I’ll be exploring the secluded Arctic, in total isolation, thousands of miles from civilization — in the name of…”

Read more.

From LANL: “Ann Ollila and Nina Lanza traversing the river’s shoreline in search of a hydrothermal vug — a void in a rock formation created when mineral crystals in the rock are dissolved or eroded. Most hydrothermal vugs are filled with flowing, mineral-saturated water.”

Standing on Mars

I got to stand on Mars, see a full size model of Perseverance and Ingenuity, and talk visitors’ ears off about SuperCam last month at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science for the Perseverance Mars Rover’s Roving With Perseverance tour!

Nina on the simulated Mars surface at NMMNHS.
This is a life-sized view of the Amalik area. Can you see the abrasion patch?

Roving With Perseverance Tour Dates

Check the the Roving With Perseverance website for tour dates. Upcoming and current locations include (in addition to NMMNHS) the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, the Edelman Planetarium in Glassboro, N.J., the Museum of Science in Boston.

Also, I couldn’t resist…

Nina doing a headstand on the simulated Mars surface at NMMNHS

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Briefing the Secretary of Energy on Mars!

During Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm’s recent visit to Los Alamos, I was lucky enough to chat with her about the latest results from the Perseverance rover and the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars.

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