January 2, 2009 #069 - Mars

As I set here today writing, snow flakes are drifting down softly from a gray sky. The Chickadee's have been feeding at the suet. Winter has a sure grip on the north land.

Yesterday, I was speaking about my favorite pictures from spacecraft roaming the solar system as the new year dawns. My second favorite view was captured by Opportunity as it treks across the Martian desert. This rover is racing time and entropy in a bid to reach Endeavour Crater before mechanical or electronic death embraces it. I can not help looking at this picture without remembering the martian named "Tweel" from "A Martian Odyssey" penned by Stanley G. Weinbaum in the 1930's. Like Opportunity, Stanley had only a short time to write his stories, as he was dying.

"Tweel" was described as bird like. As I look at images of Opportunity and especially it's shadow cast on the desert as the sun sets behind it the resemblance is striking. He traveled great distances by springing into the martian sky, and travelling much like a thrown javelin. The rover travels in spurts, gathering data for the next jump also.

Clear Sky - Rich


January 1, 2009 #068 - New Year

I would like to wish you a Happy New Year and many Clear Skies for 2009!

My wife and I are spending the holidays on the shore of Lake Superior. There are 16 inches of snow and temperatures below zero here. It is wonderful, a winter out of a Currier & Ives print. Last night we went out for a celebratory early supper and were treated to a beautiful sight. The moon and Venus hung in the clear western sky, cold and sparkling.

I spent some time today catching up on web sites presenting information on the current probes orbiting, transiting to, or roving the solar system. The list is mind boggling: Mercury, Venus, Luna, Mars, Saturn and it's 60 plus moons, Pluto, Vesta and Ceres. NASA has a New Cassini portrait of Saturn that is now my current desktop. The clarity of this shot looking at the ringed planet takes my breath away.

A full size version in all it's glory can be found at:

Clear Sky - Rich