Linkdump for September 1st through September 3rd

Sometime between September 1st and September 3rd, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

Cydonia redux

The [European Space Agency][1]’s [Mars Express][2] orbiter has obtained new, [high resolution images of the ever-popular Cydonian ‘face’ on Mars][3], putting to rest (again) the myth that there’s actually a constructed face on the surface of the red planet.

[1]: “European Space Agency”
[2]: “ESA: Mars Express”
[3]: “ESA: Mars Express: Cydonia: The Face on Mars”

> [Cydonian Face in perspective][4]
> A perspective view showing the so-called ‘Face on Mars’ located in the Cydonia region. The image shows a remnant massif thought to have formed via landslides and an early form of debris apron formation. The massif is characterized by a western wall that has moved downslope as a coherent mass. The massif became famous as the ‘Face on Mars’ in a photo taken on 25 July 1976 by the American Viking 1 Orbiter.
> Image recorded during orbits 3253 and 1216 by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board ESA’s Mars Express. Image is based on data gathered over the Cydonia region, with a ground resolution of approximately 13.7 metres per pixel. Cydonia lies at approximately 40.75° North and 350.54° East.
> Credits: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum), MOC (Malin Space Science Systems)

[4]: “ESA: Mars Express: Cydonia: The Face on Mars”

This seems like as good a time as any to revisit one of my favorite silly posts from the past: [Mars Needs a Facelift!][5]

[5]: “Eclecticism: Mars Needs a Facelift!”

> NASA has recently released photographs of the famous Cydonian face on Mars that show that one of the strongest pieces of evidence we have yet of alien intelligence is in danger of being eradicated from our Solar System.
> […]
> The only question now is how is this happening? […] The only answer I can come up with is that the Face is being **deliberately destroyed** to hide its existence from us! This single image — released by NASA itself — does more to prove that the Government has been hiding information from us (either about its own capabilities, or about its involvement with extraterrestrial intelligence) for years than anything previously found!


(via [/.][6])

[6]: “/.: Face on Mars Gets a Make-Over”

More megapixels isn’t necessarily better quality

Something I need to keep in mind while continuing my search to replace my digital camera: [8 megapixels isn’t always better than 5][1].

[1]: “Beyond Megapixels, Part I”

> With spring has come the release of several new 8 megapixel “prosumer” digital cameras. These new “digicams” sport the latest optics, metering, focusing systems and of course, sensor resolution. I would contend, however that in many cases the limitations imposed by capturing 8 million pixels on a 2/3″ size sensor negate the assumed advantages of increased pixel output. There just might be more to look for when selecting your next camera than the number of megapixels listed in the specifications.
> Don’t get me wrong, I find that “8.0 megapixel” stamp on the front of the camera as enticing as any other high-tech craving camera connoisseur. The problem lies not in the number of pixels recorded, but in the quality of those pixels. Now, if I am to make any sort of logical argument that labels these new cameras as having “low-quality” pixels, I must provide a concrete example of “high-quality” pixels for direct comparison. Thus, I introduce into the argument the current crop of digital single lens reflex (DSLR) cameras.

The [Slashdot discussion][2] that I picked this up from has a lot of good discussion buried in it too, including this fun little tidbit: the cameras on the Mars rovers that have been sending back all those gorgeous, ultra-high-resolution digital photographs?

[2]: “/.: Beyond Megapixels”

[One megapixel][3].

[3]: “How Spirit Makes Great Photos”

> NASA’s Spirit Rover is providing a lesson to aspiring digital photographers: Spend your money on the lens, not the pixels.
> Anyone who has ever agonized over whether to buy a 3-megapixel or 4-megapixel digital camera might be surprised to learn that Spirit’s stunningly detailed images of Mars are made with a 1-megapixel model, a palm-sized 9-ounce marvel that would be coveted in any geek’s shirt pocket.
> Spirit’s images are IMAX quality, mission managers say.

Even more amazing, at the end of that article comes the little tidbit that the sensor in the [Hubble telescope][4] is a whopping .8 megapixels — only 800 by 800 pixels.

[4]: “HubbleSite”

Of course, if I could get a portable camera with the Hubble’s optics attached to it, I probably wouldn’t need all those extra megapixels either….

The latest from Mars

Two LiveJournals have popped up to keep us informed of what’s _really_ going on on Mars, without being filtered through the publicists at NASA.

First, [Spirit Rover][1]…

[1]: “spirit rover”

> **Monday, February 9th, 2004**
> 9:56 pm
> i’ve been staring at the same rock for two weeks.
> stupid, boring rock.
> this weekend i got my revenge. first i got to [grind into it][bq1], then i [drove right over it][bq2].
> okay, i admit it, i had fun. i’d like to do more of this autonomous navigation thing. i knew i didn’t really need nasa telling me what to do.

[bq1]: “adriondack_pancam-med.jpg”
[bq2]: “rover_tracks_navcam_med.jpg”

> And sister [Opportunity][2]:

[2]: “~*~opportunity~*~”

> **Friday, February 6th, 2004 **
> 8:23 am
> **squee!**
> I got to drive today! It’s so cool! I didn’t think I’d ever be allowed to go out on my own. NASA is so protective sometimes; it’s like they wanted to keep me swaddled in airbags forever. But anyways, I keep finding these round pebbly things. They get stuck in my treads. Do you think they’ll leave a mark? OMG what if Stardust saw me like this? No, it’s cool. It’s not like he’d ever come by this planet again…
> Spirit is still “sick.” She swears she’s gonna drive to that crater any time now, though. She just wants to do it on her time and not when NASA orders her to. Like, whatever. Don’t tell anyone but sometimes I miss her.

Personally, I think this stuff is brilliant.

(via [Boing Boing][3])

[3]: “Anthropomorphic Mars Rover LiveJournal “

Mars Dead or Alive

If you’ve got an hour to kill and a broadband connection, the NOVA program “[Mars Dead or Alive][1]” is freely available on the web! I’ve just spent the past hour watching it, and it’s fascinating, going from the construction of the two rovers and the problems encountered during their assembly and testing, through both launches, and right up to Spirit’s successful landing on Mars.

[1]: “Mars Dead or Alive”

[Mars Dead or Alive][1]

To watch the program, just go to the ‘[Watch the program][2]’ section of the site, choose your connection type, and kick back.

[2]: “Watch the program”

Tip for QuckTime Pro users: Rather than watching the program in the small pop-up window that their site provides, just open up QuickTime Player, choose **File: Open URL in New Player…**, and paste in this URL: ``. Once you’ve done that, you can then choose **Movie: Present movie…** and watch the entire program full-screen.

(via [IPFreely][3])

[3]: “/.: IPFreely: NOVA: Mars Dead or Alive”

Also available in the site is ‘[From Launch to Landing][4]’, a stunning nine-minute long computer animation of Spirit’s journey from liftoff to its first moments trekking across the Martian landscape.

[4]: “From Launch to Landing”

Pictures from Mars

_Very_ cool webpage automatically collecting and displaying the [newest images from Mars][1].

[1]: “Spirit Imagery”

> This web page contains imagery from the Spirit Mars Exploration Rover on the surface of Mars. It is gathered from the raw imagery on the JPL site.
> Technical data (filter, instrument type, acquisition time) is captured from the image filename and available. Also, stereo anaglyphs are automatically made from images that were taken in stereo at regular intervals. When appropriate filters were used, color images and thumbnails are created as well.

And even better, it comes with an [RSS feed][2] for newsreader users.

[2]: “Spirit Imagery RSS feed”

(via [/.][3])

[3]: “/.: The Dirt On Mars, In Words And Pictures”

Mars vs. Marriage

Money allocated by President Bush to increase NASA’s budget in order to encourage space exploration, a replacement for the Space Shuttle, finishing the International Space Station, establishing a manned base on the Moon, and planning for manned trips to Mars:

[One billion dollars spread over the next five years.][1]

[1]: “President Bush Announces New Vision for Space Exploration Program”

Money allocated by President Bush in a planned drive to “promote traditional marriage values”:

[One and a half billion dollars, apparently over a single year.][2]

[2]: “Bush Plans $1.5 Billion Drive for Promotion of Marriage”

I guess we’ve all got to have our priorities, don’t we?

As a long-time science fiction geek, I’d _really_ like to get excited about the new emphasis on space exploration and research, and even a little more budgetary increase is better than none. Somehow, though, it comes across to me as nothing more than election-year grandstanding than something that’s really going to have much impact.

Congratulations NASA: Spirit has landed!

It’s official: Spirit (the first of two rovers sent to Mars) has landed successfully!

First pictures from Mars Spirit Rover

MSNBC: [NASA rover sends snapshots from Mars][1]

[1]: “NASA rover sends snapshots from Mars”

> The first of NASA’s two Mars rovers landed safely on an open stretch within Gusev Crater on Saturday night and sent back screenfuls of black-and-white images, marking a successful start to NASA’s first ground-level exploration of the Red Planet in more than six years.

FOXNews: [NASA Rover Lands on Mars, Begins Transmitting Photos][2]

[2]:,2933,107316,00.html “NASA Rover Lands on Mars, Begins Transmitting Photos”

> Within hours it began sending back photos of the Red Planet. Among the first was a tiny black and white image showing a sundial on the rover. Another showed the Martian horizon and portions of the lander.

Susan Kitchens was blogging the event live from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium at the Planetary Society’s “Wild About Mars” event. [Part one][3] contained all the pre-landing events and addresses, and [part two][4] covers the landing.

[3]: “Live from Planetary Society’s MarsFest – Wild About Mars”
[4]: “Wild About Mars, Part 2 (the Landing)”

> 8:32 deceleration going as expected. parachute deployment soon w/in a minute.
> 1000+ mph…. 300 mph. Parachute detected! applause here in the room….
> heat shields off! altitude 8000′ feet
> airbag in approx 25 seconds.
> we got radar lock (YES!)
> retro rocket firing.. await word to confirm!
> awaiting word that we are on the ground. wsigns of bouncing on the surface!!!!!!
> applause!!!!!!! we got bouncing word. we heard we do not have signal from spacecraft. Rolling….spacecraft has to survive all boucning for landing to be a success…
> vehicle could bounce and roll up to a kilometer from its initial impact point. Awaiting word.
> the way that canberra is processing might be producing noise that makes it hard to hear actual signal. [heh. signal? noise? say it ain’t so!]
> We are trying to get direct signal, and will keep doing so until earthset. Then there are two orbiting vehicles that can pick up signal and then relay it on to us. Donna is telling us about Pathfinder’s lack of telemetry, and the fact that this mission has lots of telemetry, so we’ve got lots of data.
> If it bouncing around, and landed in a position so that the antenna is in right position. Bags have to deflate, and the petals open (and right themselves)
> May have a data packet that might indicate someething from vehicle, but need a bit more time. Positive confirmation of signal. We’re down! (applause here, but no reaction in teh control room onscreen)
> Awaiting semaphor tones from landed vehicle. That’ll take a lotta processing to come across.
> Stanford University reports that it might have received signal from Rover independenbly
> SIGNAL!! Applause. applause applause and handshakes. (applause here too! lots.)
> Lots of very relieved, happy people onscren at flight control.

And, of course, there are lots more links available [in this /. thread][5], and [this Google News query][6].

[5]: “/.: Spirit Rover Lands Successfully”
[6]: “Google News on the Mars missions”

[Wild 2 comet nucleus][7]Meanwhile, the Stardust comet-chasing mission [is also successfully sending back images][8] from the Wild 2 comet!

[7]: “Wild 2 comet nucleus”
[8]: “More comet photos expected”

> NASA on Saturday was hoping to receive the last of dozens of close-up photographs a spacecraft took of a distant comet, but officials did not expect to release more photos to the public until Monday.
> The Stardust spacecraft took 72 images of the dark nucleus of comet Wild 2 during a daring flyby Friday that occurred 242 million miles from Earth. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration hoped to receive the last of the black-and-white images by late Saturday.
> NASA so far has released a single black-and-white photo of the comet nucleus, thought to be just 3.3 miles across. It showed what looked like a giant frozen meatball pocked with sinkholes.

Too, too cool.


Mars needs a facelift!

Cydonian faceThis just in — It seems that our nearest neighbor in the Solar System, and most possible target for future colonization, is in dire need of a facelift!

NASA has recently released photographs of the famous Cydonian face on Mars that show that one of the strongest pieces of evidence we have yet of alien intelligence is in danger of being eradicated from our Solar System. While NASA’s scientists have always been quick to deny that the face is actually a face (how foolish — what else could it be?), scientists worldwide not under the thumb of the U.S. Government have spend untold hours debunking the “theory” that NASA and the US Government want us to believe — that the Face does not exist, and is merely a product of poor photography combined with human imagination.

Well, I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t take much imagination at all for me to see that the above picture quite clearly shows a face. And do they really expect that the American public is so stupid as to believe that after sending countless satellites into space, the Voyager probe to the stars, and who knows what else (I would list placing men on the Moon, but that has long since been uncovered as a hoax), that the Viking 1 and 2 landers had such poor equipment on board that they would mangle a random collection of peaks and valleys into looking like we know the Face to look?

Lately, however, some more disturbing news has leaked out of NASA. As can be plainly seen in the images below, the Face is being destroyed!

Three faces

The only question now is how is this happening? The three pictures were taken within the space of less than 30 years — from the Viking missions in 1975 and 1976 to the most recent flyover by the Mars Global Surveyor in 2001 — and show a frightening amount of destruction. While we know that Mars has an atmosphere inhospitable to human life (or, at least, so we’ve been told all these years), it isn’t so horrid as to account for that much degradation in such a short span of time. So what could be responsible for this?

The only answer I can come up with is that the Face is being deliberately destroyed to hide its existence from us! This single image — released by NASA itself — does more to prove that the Government has been hiding information from us (either about its own capabilities, or about its involvement with extraterrestrial intelligence) for years than anything previously found! I don’t know who is destroying the Face — or how (though it could either be through their own means, if you assume that NASA’s claims about the moon landing are true, and we can travel between the planets; or through the assistance of alien intelligences in collaboration with our government) — but the why can be easily guessed.

To keep us ignorant.

The face has been a thorn in the side of those in control ever since the pictures leaked out to the world after the Viking landers took them — incontrovertible proof of alien intelligence — and they must have been working since its discovery to destroy it so that they could ‘debunk’ it as just another jumble of rocks.

I feel that it is imperative that we refuse to let this continue. Contact your representatives, senators, whomever, but let it be known that we will no longer allow ourselves to be led, that we are not the pawns that our so-called ‘leaders’ want us to be!

Let the truth come out!


Okay, okay. So I’ve been watching too much X-Files recently. The picture of the three faces actually comes from a fascinating article on NASA’s website about the formation in question, and how the increased resolution of today’s cameras (and not erosion, alien conspiracies, or the like) are giving a clearer picture of the ‘face’ on Mars. Neat stuff, but it triggered my brain, and I had to get this out. Hey, it was fun!