12 Years of Martian Opportunity

This week marks the 12 year anniversary of the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, part of the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission.  Only expected to last 90 days, Opportunity is still working.  Not only functional, it’s still returning good data about Mars. It’s definitely taken a beating, and it has to be careful.  Being powered by solar panels and not a thermonuclear generator like it’s younger cousin Curiosity means it has to be careful to stay in the sunlight.  Dust on the panels certainly reduces their efficiency, but Opportunity has had some help from Martian winds to keep the dust from...

Strange Hydrogen

Gas giants, like Jupiter, Saturn, or some of the largest exoplanets, are mostly made of Hydrogen gas.  The simplest and most abundant element in the universe, Hydrogen easily reacts to form compounds, especially at higher temperatures, making it hard to contain and work with.  It’s essential to understand how it behaves across a range of temperatures and pressures so that we can understand the interiors of stars and planets.  But there may also be applications closer to home, like the white whale of materials science, a room temperature superconductor. A team of researchers from Osaka University and Tokyo Institute of...

Motivation Monday: How to Level Up and Learn New Skills

As Gaming has clawed its way into our culture, the term ‘level up’ has taken on a whole new meaning.  Suddenly a level up is not just a desired progression point in a video game, its a term we use to describe exciting milestones in our own lives, most notably with learning skills. A big part of skill building and progression is the transition through the following levels: 1. You don’t know what you don’t know (unconscious incompetence) – You have no idea what the skill involves, and you have no idea how much you don’t know about it.  You continue...