Friday, January 27, 2006

Speculative Volcanology

I've been mostly interested in what Spirit is doing in Gusev crater, because I am a hard-rock kinda girl, and that's where the good rocks are. But this week, I documented for Opportunity, and had a great time! Opportunity is sitting at a location called the Olympia outcrop, that features some really exceptional ripples and crossbedding, and the team is taking its time getting the coverage this outcrop deserves. While I was on, we planned several mosiacs using the Microscopic Imager (MI). The field of view of this little camera is about 4 pennies if you arranged then 2 by 2. So to get a lot of coverage, we take a bunch of images and mosic them together. In addition, because the instrument is so close and the surface is not exactly a plane, we take a stack of images moving a few millimeters closer to the surface each time, and then examine them to find the one that is in the best focus. It's not really difficult to get these MI mosiacs, but there are a lot of detailed commands and it is challenging to make sure they're all correct and in the right order. But of course, the engineering team is terrific at doing this by now!

On the Spirit side, I've been dabbling in speculative volcanology, a new discipline I could really get into. Basically, we're seeing lots of volcanic rocks and the orbital maps seem to show lava flows as well. But, we haven't gotten any decisive data yet, and I'm not a volcanologist. It has been fun (for me, anyway) to learn about various modes of volcanism from my officemate and from other members of the team who are willing to listen to my latest crazy idea!

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