• Countdown to 12/2/2011…

    3… MSL is on course! How “on course” is it? Ask Louis D’Amario (MSL’s mission design and navigation manager):

    This was among the most accurate interplanetary injections ever.

    Sounds good to me!

    2… MSL is having some issues, or at least had some pre-launch that are now becoming public. Specifically, some planetary protection protocols were not followed. While this may not affect MSL’s mission because of the choice of landing locations (likely lifeless) and the other protocols that *were* followed, this is something we need to be paying attention to. This goes double if we ever strike oil water on Mars or Europa, land on one of Titan’s lakes, or return samples from one of these bodies.

    1… There’s lots of interesting stuff in Science today! Beyond the intrigue of arrests over stolen lab notebooks and the “impressive title award” that goes to Entangling Macroscopic Diamonds at Room Temperature, there are papers on the ties between decreases in carbon dioxide concentrations and Antarctic glaciation (with obvious implications for increases in carbon dioxide) and a paper by a former professor of mine, Lee Kump, and my good friend Chris Junium (and a cast of others) on “Isotopic Evidence for Massive Oxidation of Organic Matter Following the Great Oxidation Event.”

    Finally, on a more personal note… thanks to everyone reading this who was at the launch last week. I had a wonderful time with friends, family, colleagues, and total strangers alike. Now I’m just going to be an increasingly nervous wreck as the landing approaches.