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I hope you notice the respectful mention of your site and its contents on msnbc.com's technology page today.

Oliver Morton

I did indeed, Jim -- glad you're enjoying the site. For people who have come here following Jim's advice, the post he was quoting from is "Drenched"


Kind-of reminds me of the two shuttle disasters: small details, easily missed, but caught on camera, eventually revealing the whole sorry story. And with Columbia, there was even the spectacle of senior people denying that such a thing could have happened /that/ way.

Let's not be too down on Pillinger and his team. It took a lot of work to get Beagle 2 to Mars, and the emotional shock of failure has got to be profound. Let them come to terms with it in their own time.

Diane Duane

Oliver, forgive me for inserting a completely off-the-wall question here. (I checked your contact link but couldn't seem to find an email address.)

For an upcoming book, I have a strange question about the mapping of Mars.

Is there at present, anywhere on the Martian surface, any feature name, however big or small, that reflects the memory of the Edgar Rice Burroughs "John Carter of Mars" books?

(And if not, why not?) ;)

Thanks! -- D.

Oliver Morton

Burroughs himself has a crater down south -- 72.4 S, 243 W -- which is presumable in recognition of the Carter books. As I understand it, though, the IAU doesn't allow the names of fictional characters to be used for Martian features. Elsewhere things are a bit more fluid; mythical people are often OK in the outer solar system, and so are chartacters from some fiction that sort of verges on the mythical: Homer, Malory, Burton (1001 nights), Shakespeare and Pope. There was an idea a while back that some names from Tolkien's middle earth might be used on Titan, but that was thought to be insufficiently universal...

Diane Duane

Thanks! Just what I needed. Thanks also for the coordinates...I can make those serve my twisted purposes.

Avoiding fictional people's names, that I suppose I can understand. Yet there should have been nothing preventing someone calling an area "Helium". :)

Meanwhile, thanks again. I have a long-running piece of Mars business in the YW series which, it seems, will be getting paid off in the book after the one I'm working on at the moment. I am toying ever so lightly with the title "A Wizard of Mars"...

Bruce Moomaw

Thought I'd let you all know that Spirit has now arrived at the edge of Bonneville crater:


It's amazingly shallow -- it will be a piece of cake to drive all the way to the bottom nd then out again. (You can even see a couple of places that look exactly like entrance ramps!) And you can also see what is unmistakably the heat shield glittering on the opposite rim. I don't see anything recognizable as bedrock, though.

Tomorrow morning's press conference should be entertaining. Meanwhile, Opportunity is now on its way to the "Berry Bowl", which should be able to tell us unambiguously whether (as I expect) the gray beads at Meridiani are the hematite.

Rupert Goodwins

As an aside (hello, Oliver!), what's the best guess at the moment for the rovers' operational lifetime? I've read a few discussions about what'll knock them on the head in the end - dust on the photovoltaic panels seems to be popular - but nothing authoritative. Or is it going to be the batteries doing what batteries normally do?



Talk about an inconvenient truth. Jeez! I will never see the repsonse to this because I'll never see the site again. I've seen a very quick repsonse from the science' of sites like this that quickly have a reason to explain why the planets and moons of planets in this solar system are warming other than the fact that they are warming. No carbon emitting engines to influence the facts, no methane emitting cows, no humans emitting influence at all, just warming. Even if you were correct in your science' (and your not), there isn't a cotton pickin thing you can do to prevent what is coming your way if it is man made. This planet will be here with or without humans, and it will take care of itself. You put waaay too much importance on yourself and your left wing ideals.The wars your kind will start because of the damage you do the the world economy will make WWII look like a walk in the park, not to mention a real man made warming that comes just before the really quick cool down that will come from the thermal nuclear dust thrown up by your overblown theory that you have any say whatsoever on what humans do to this planet. You give so much importance to yourselves, that you ignore the fact that the Earth has more than once nearly lost all life forms larger than a cockroach and made its way back. The gall of of you people that think you have any influence whatsoever on what happens in this solar system is way more than what you do or could do.The fact that the rest of the solar system is warming as well as the Earth is just an inconvenient truth to you.


There is onee small but significant point that shuold be mentioned here. It is a very common argument used by those who support or are part of the Establishement View', sometimes here called the consensus' view, to justify their position by saying that those who support opposing views have no peer-reviewed' scientific articles or papers. Of course what those who make this argument fail to tell, is that it is almost impossible to get a paper reviewed by the official channels if it opposes the current status quo which feeds the gravy train of research grants, eminent Career positions and fame. Witness also the almost religious zeal and nature of the tar & Fathuring' of anyone who dares to contradict the declared truth' . They are accused of being either loonys, unscientific or worse in the pay of various interested parties whether OIL or Religion. Whether it is those challenging the dubious scientific conclusions on human-cause for cliamate change, or those who challenge the lack of a scientific basis for neo-darwinism, they are all (and there are many) treated with the same utter disrespect, and are attacked as though they were heretics rather than as they shuold be, as fellow scientists who wish to keep their minds open as scientists shuold, until solid evidence and empiracle proof is established. It worries me when I see religious terms and behaviours being used by people to defend unproven scientific theories. True scientists accept and understand the difference between Theory and Dogma !

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