Geological field trip to Gale crater, Mars: a view from the ChemCam on MSL

Located on Curiosity's mast, the ChemCam instrument ("Chemistry and Camera") uses a laser to provide the elemental composition of geological features along the rover's path. Since 2012, it has contributed to the investigation of geological units that record a time when on Mars, at Gale crater, liquid water was present at the surface. 

Chile Expedition 2016 - Dr. Cabrol visits Expedition Site 2 in the Andes

EXPEDITION ALBUM #2 - Good Morning, Earthlings! As I promised, here are some incredible pictures of our exploration at Site #2 in the Andes. We were in the area of the Lastarria volcano and came back yesterday. Today, we are heading for the San Pedro area for more scientific adventures. We have been incredibly successful so far, including new findings that we will publish in the coming months. But for now, here is for you, an album of what is, in my heart, one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Here we go...

Welcome to Salar Grande

Welcome to Salar Grande, Chile... This is where my team and I spent the last 4 days collecting samples of extremophiles that live inside salt nodules in some of the driest conditions on Earth...(you can see them in the first image). The Atacama is absolutely stunning...Vultures kept us company during the whole 4 days, apparently very interested by what we were doing. They were also nesting and we kept our distance. So, here we go....Enjoy these views.

Astronomers Pumped by ‘Heartbeat Stars’

They’re called “heartbeat stars”, but not because they expand and contract.  In fact, they’re double star systems in which one star has a highly elongated orbit similar to that of a comet.  As this star swings close to its companion, gravity pulls the latter into a non-spherical shape, changing its light output.  A plot of the brightness of such systems shows a regular intensity variation, reminiscent of an electrocardiogram.  Studying such strange stellar partners, as SETI Institute scientist 

Free "Gravitational Waves from Merging Black Holes" Talk on Wednesday, Nov 2, 2016.

On Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016 at 7 pm, Dr. Lynn Cominsky of Sonoma State University will give a free, illustrated, non-technical talk on:

Spacetime Symphony: Gravitational Waves from Merging Black Holes

in the Smithwick Theater at Foothill College, in Los Altos.

The talk is part of the Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series, now in its 17th year.

Hello from Salar Grande

Hello from Chile! I am about to leave town with my crew today and we are heading to our first site in Salar Grande. The trip will take us about 6 hours and we are heavy: 3 pickups, 1 small bus, and 1 truck. Between the science and logistics team, we are about 20 or so. Salar Grande will help us document the habitability and formation potential of biosignatures in Mars analog environments. It will also tell us about their preservation potential. Here is what Salar Grande looks like.