Keeping Up with Curiosity

When Curiosity touched down safely on Mars on August 5, John Grotzinger, the mission's chief scientist and the Fletcher Jones Professor of Geology at Caltech, was given the "keys" to the car-sized rover. Since then, most of Curiosity's time has been taken up by a series of checkouts, but she has relayed hundreds of images back to Earth, giving the science team plenty to study and discuss.

Now On Mars: "A One-Ton, Automobile-Sized Piece of American Ingenuity"

The mood in von Karman Auditorium at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) late Sunday night was overwhelmingly, almost deliriously, celebratory. The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, Curiosity, touched down safely on Mars at 10:32 p.m. PDT and minutes later relayed its first black-and-white thumbnail images back to Earth, showing one of its wheels firmly planted on Martian soil.

Home Sweet Mars

The "seven minutes of terror" are over, and members of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) team have finally let out a collective sigh of relief.

 

Countdown to Mars: Some Curious Facts

Since launching in November 2011, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) has been traveling full steam ahead on a journey that will traverse over 350 million miles, ending on the Red Planet at 10:31 p.m. on Sunday, August 5. Tucked into a spacecraft for safekeeping during flight, MSL contains a rover named Curiosity. Here are some facts about Curiosity and the mission.

Mission to Mars

After journeying more than 340 million miles over the course of eight months, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL)—the most capable robotic mission ever sent to the Red Planet—is quickly approaching its destination. The spacecraft is scheduled to touch down on the evening of August 5. A feature-length story about this Mission to Mars appears in the Summer issue of E&S magazine.

 

Medusa Reimagined

When one observes a colorful jellyfish pulsating through the ocean, Greek mythology probably doesn't immediately come to mind. But the animal once was known as the medusa, after the snake-haired mythological creature its tentacles resemble. The mythological Medusa's gaze turned people into stone, and now, thanks to recent advances in bio-inspired engineering, a team led by researchers at Caltech and Harvard University have flipped that fable on its head: turning a solid element and muscle cells into a freely swimming "jellyfish."

An Earthquake in a Maze

The powerful magnitude-8.6 earthquake that shook Sumatra on April 11, 2012, was a seismic standout for many reasons, not the least of which is that it was larger than scientists thought an earthquake of its type could ever be. Now, as Caltech researchers report on their findings from the first high-resolution observations of the underwater temblor, they point out that the earthquake was also unusually complex-rupturing along multiple faults that lie at nearly right angles to one another, as though racing through a maze.

Caltech Researchers Find Evidence of Link between Immune Irregularities and Autism

A new Caltech study suggests that specific changes in an overactive immune system can contribute to autism-like behaviors in mice, and that in some cases, this activation can be related to what a developing fetus experiences in the womb.

A New Kind of Amplifier

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have developed a new type of amplifier for boosting electrical signals. The device can be used for everything from studying stars, galaxies, and black holes to exploring the quantum world and developing quantum computers.

Peering Into the Heart of a Supernova

Using computer simulations, Caltech researchers have determined that if the interior of a dying star is spinning rapidly just before it explodes in a magnificent supernova, two different types of signals emanating from that stellar core will oscillate together at the same frequency. This could be a piece of "smoking-gun evidence" that would lead to a better understanding of supernovae.

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