Building Curiosity and more

Rover test yard

We recently took a field trip to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to visit the Mars rover test yard. As some of you may recall, my eldest, Cooper, was obsessed with the latest Mars rover, Curiosity, for at least a third of 2011. (NOTE: Curiosity lands on the Red Planet August 5th — 6 months from yesterday.)

The rover test yard is a simulated martian surface composed of dirt, large rocks and hills. The yard houses Curiosity’s “twin,” a second rover almost exactly like Curiosity. Scientists can test out techniques and fix problems using the test rover before trying things out on Mars. While we were there, we saw how Curiosity will use the sun to orient itself on Mars. Cooper also got to “drive” the rover. After commands were punched into the computer, our eager five-year-old got to hit the enter key. One of the most amazing things about the rover was the sound it makes while it moves. It sounds exactly like someone crushing aluminum cans.

During our trip, we visited one of the labs and toured the JPL museum, which chronicles every JPL mission to date. We ran into several groups of schoolchildren and boy scouts. It was a cool place!

To learn more about the Curiosity mission, see the JPL Web site. On Youtube, JPL has a great series, called Building Curiosity ,about all the new rover technologies.

In other news, writer extraordinaire Beth Stilborn granted me the coveted Kreativ Blogger award. It’s almost like getting a Pulitzer. (Hey, I said almost). So, “thanks Beth!” As part of the award, I get to introduce you to six fantastic bloggers and tell you 10 things about myself. First, the bloggers who shall receive the Kreativ Blogger Award are:

Check out these great blogs, please!

Now, 10 quick things about me:

  1. On my nightstand: “Curious?” by Todd Kashdan and a P.D. James’s “Cover Her Face”
  2. Most recently recorded item on my DVR: “Wild Animal Baby Explorers”
  3. Favorite color: Red
  4. Most delicious thing I ate recently: Me Gusta’s tamales. The pineapple is to die for.
  5. Best recent purchase: Levenger’s Nantucket Lap Reader (using it every day for 12 x 12)
  6. Best part of the Super Bowl – game or commercials: The game (if only the Pittsburgh Steelers were playing)
  7. Early bird or night owl: early bird!
  8. Pet peeve: Having dirty feet. I will not walk around barefoot outside.
  9. What drives my kids crazy: I sing all the time.
  10. Dream vacation: I still haven’t made it to Rome despite taking an entire class on Renaissance Italian Art History.
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14 Replies to “Building Curiosity and more”

  1. Wow! The Jet Propulsion Lab sounds REALLY cool! I bet Cooper had a fantastic time! Congrats on the award 🙂 I also sing too much – drives my kids crazy too 🙂 Going to check out the Nantucket thing – we go there almost every summer, so if it has Nantucket in the name I have to check it out!

  2. I’m so glad to find someone else who sings all the time! I used to get so embarrassed when my mum would break into song in public. Um… guess who does that now?

    Loved learning about “Curiosity” — perfect name, isn’t it?

    And you’re certainly welcome for the award. Thanks for your kind words about me!

  3. Congrats! I thought I was following your blog, but apparently this my first time to your blog. I love your title by the way. I detest socks. Gasp! And I love to run around my yard and garden with nothing on my feet!

  4. Thanks so much for passing on the award Kirsten, I feel very honoured! Will be off to check out all those other sites now too.
    And on another note – oh how my son would love to visit the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. We have a dream to spend a few months travelling America with the kids in a few years, so maybe one day.
    Thanks again x

  5. Hi Kirsten,
    I thought I had left a reply, but apparently did not. Thanks so much for the award (and congrats on yours). I’m so honored to have been considered for the “almost” Pulitzer. 🙂 I think it’s great that you sing all the time! I had no idea that the JPL was in California (are you from that area?) I am up North in the SF Bay Area.
    Margaret

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