The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


August 22, 2012

TECH UPDATE | Space madness: Curiosity, InSight, space station

t’s been a little while since the last update. Since then, space has dominated a large part of the tech world. The latest news: NASA plans to follow up the celebrated successful Curiosity Mars rover landing with another unmanned mission.

The upcoming mission, InSight, will explore Mars’ core. According to a NASA press release, the mission will determine if the planet has a solid or liquid core and try to determine why Mars’ crust is not broken into floating tectonic plates like Earth’s.

Meanwhile, our robotic friend Curiosity fired a laser at a Mars rock on Aug. 19. It burned a hole into the rock by blasting it with 30 pulses of its laser over 10 seconds. The blast was part of a collection of tests – which also included the motors that control the rover’s wheels – that preceded Curiousity’s first on-the-move adventure from Bradbury Landing, named after famed author Ray Bradbury.

Curiosity also sent us some high-resolution color images from the Mars surface. Looks eerily like an Earth desert. I can’t wait to see and read more about Curiosity’s adventure.

It also returned some pics of the tracks it was making on the surface.

International Space Station watching

A few weeks ago, before the Perseid meteor shower, the International Space Station passed directly overhead here on the east coast at night.

It is a somewhat rare occurrence because the station often passes overhead during the daytime or in the very early morning hours.

This time, the station passed just after dusk for three consecutive nights. As I watched it with a co-worker the first night, I was texting with another co-worker who was also watching it.

That conversation made me wonder how many thousand other people spent 60 seconds with their noses straight in the air, mouth agape watching that thing rocket across the sky.

Did you watch the space station? What do you think about Curiosity and InSight? Send comments to

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