I SENT MY ROCK TO
DEIRDRE KELLEGHAN Published Novem
ber /December 2004 in Orbit
In November 2001, I registered with
NASA to take part in the ‘SEND YOUR NAME TO MARS’ project. When the Mars Exploration Rover
2003 mission finally landed its two space probes on the surface of Mars, I knew then that my name and the names of 4 million other
people from around the world had also landed on the red planet. I have been following the progress of the mission since and I came across
another interactive project connected with the Mars mission. The venture is called ‘Rock Around the World’ and it calls on interested people to take part in a symbiotic and simultaneous experiment involving the analysis of rocks on Mars and on Earth.
This is an invitation from NASA to take part in a geological experiment where you literally send your rock to
I posted my rock to
ach of the dots represents a rock received. On the map of
Explorers Spirit and
and uses a grinding wheel to remove dust and we
athered rock, exposing fresh rock underneath. The
RAT exposes an area nearly 5 cm (2 inches) in diameter, and grinds down to a depth of about 5 mm (0.2 inches).
The rock particles are then brought inside the Rover and analysis by the Mössbauer Spectrometer. The Mössbauer Spectrometer sensor head is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. It is one of four instruments mounted on the turret at the end of the rover arm. Its electronics are housed inside the body of the Rover (in the Warm Electronics Box, or WEB). Measurements are taken by placing the instrument's sensor head directly against a rock or soil sample. One Mössbauer measurement takes about 12 hours.
The Rock around the World project gives the scientists the ability
to compare rock profiles on Mars with rock profiles on Earth. It tests these instruments capability and endurance. It develops a worldwide profile of rock samples. A database of interested people to perhaps get involved in future experiments this is a real time working study of these special drills (Rat’s) and the analysis of the data produced. The study would also help anticipate and problems that might occur with the drilling and the analysis of material focused on by Spirit and
The Mars Rover Exploration Mission has been a resounding success and so far the rovers Spirit and
Meridiani area’s on Mars. The rovers have completed their primary requirements and are continuing their work on the red planet.
The rovers were designed to discover evidence of liquid water in Mar’s past, and they did so in dramatic fashion. Both rovers have had their missions officially extended by NASA to at least September, and will continue for as long as possible after that. People taking part in the Rock Around the World project will get:
§ A certificate of participation from NASA
§ Your rock will be
analyzed by space technology
§ An analysis of your rock
§ Your rock will be presented on the Rock Around the World website
§ Your rock will be placed in a museum of special rocks for study
§ The fun of taking part no matter what age you are
To take part in the Rock pr
oject you must send a rock to
A rock – Minimu
m 2/ Maximum 6”
(I sent a 2”X 4” rock)
Latitude /Longitude of location where rock was found
This can be achieved precisely by logging on to www.heavansabove.com
Name of geographic feature where rock was collected
Copy of map with location
Marked where rock was collected
Photo of rock beside ruler for scale
Photo of location where rock was collected
I wrapped my rock in bubble
wrap and then in a jiffy bag. It cost € 10 to se
Short paragraph describing area
where rock was found
Send your rock to:
Dr Phil Christensen
Mars Space Flight Facil
This is the photograph of my rock as it appears on the website and beside it one of the analyses, this rock is mostly quartz but interestingly has a reading of 6%Opal and is a common rock in the Bray area. My rock also had a general analysis and a metamorphic analysis available on the website my rock number is RAT W00520. Spirit and Opportunity have now spent over one year on the surface of Mars, the anniversary was on January 3rd 2005 and both rovers have worked so well for over 380 Sol (a sol is a day on Mars).Both rovers have been covered in a thin layer of Martian dust but are still moving around well and still drilling rocks and sending back extraordinary photographs of the Martian surface. Check out the gallery which is updated regularly http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/press/spirit/.
The next major step in Mars Exploration is taking shape with preparation of NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for launch in just seven months. This spacecraft is scheduled for launch on August 10th 2005 and will in less than two years from now, will begin a series of global mapping, regional survey and targeted observations from a near-polar, low-altitude Mars orbit. These observations will be unprecedented in terms of the spatial resolution and coverage achieved by the orbiter's instruments as they observe the atmosphere and surface of Mars while probing its shallow subsurface as part of a "follow the water" strategy.
This extraordinary picture of a meteorite
Mars the first time a meteorite of any kind
has been found on another Planet!