Monday, April 24, 2006

Roving Mars!

Rob and I finally went to see Roving Mars this weekend in Phoenix. It's an IMAX film about the launch and landing of Spirit and Opportunity and has some really spectacular full-screen renderings of some of the early data. It wasn't as long as I would have liked but it was amazing to see some of the pictures on the humongous screen. Also, I was glad to see some of the cenes of the scientists when landing occurred - I was in a tent in Antarctica at the time and missed the excitement. Something about Steve Squyres having his own IMDb entry strikes me as hilarious, though his brother Tim is a bona fide Hollywood editor.

Spirit is definitely nestling down for a long winter in her present location. Unfortunately for me, there's no good rocks right in front of the rover, so my grand plans for multi-rock analysis campaigns will have to wait until after the southern Martan winter solstice (August 8). The soil and remote sensing people are kicking into high gear for the first part of winter and have some really cool plans for looking at different levels in the soil and acquiring the McMurdo Pan, a grand 13-filter panorama of everything around us. Opportunity is still zipping along, less than 1500 m to go to Victoria crater!

So, while I am supporting operations, I'm trying to dig into some data analysis, including multivariate analysis. I took linear algebra in college as an elective because I am such a geek. It was one of the few classes where I succumbed to the whining refrain, "When will I ever use this in the real world?" Well, 15 years later, it's come round to haunt me with whispers of eigenvectors.....

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