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March 2004

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Index to our previous shows

  • March 21, 2004 - Howard Hendrix
  • Shows from February, 2004
  • Shows from January, 2004
  • Shows from December, 2003
  • Shows from November, 2003
  • Shows from October, 2003
  • Shows from September, 2003
  • Shows from August, 2003
  • Shows from July, 2003
  • Shows from June, 2003
  • Shows from May, 2003
  • Shows from February, 2003
  • Shows from January, 2003
  • Shows from December, 2002
  • Shows from November, 2002
  • Shows from October, 2002
  • Shows from September, 2002
  • Shows from August, 2002
  • Shows from July, 2002
  • Shows from June, 2002
  • Shows from May, 2002
  • Shows from April, 2002
  • Shows from March, 2002
  • Shows from February, 2002
  • Shows from January, 2002
  • Shows from December 2001
  • Shows from November, 2001
  • Shows from October, 2001
  • Shows from September, 2001
  • Shows from August, 2001
  • Shows from July, 2001
  • Shows from June, 2001
  • Shows from May, 2001
  • Shows from April, 2001
  • Shows from March, 2001
  • Shows from February, 2001
  • Shows from January, 2001
  • Shows from November - December, 2000
  • Shows from September - October, 2000
  • Shows from July - August, 2000

  • Howard V. Hendrix     Listen to this show

    On Sunday - March 21st, 2004 - our guest was author Howard V. Hendrix.

    Howard is no stranger to the Hour 25 audience, this being his third appearance on the on-line edition of Hour 25. We had the chance to sit and chat with him about his books and the art and craft of writing while at the WorldCon in San Jose some time back. During that conversation he spoke about a new book he was working on, The Labyrinth Key. We decided that now would be a great time to run this interview since The Labyrinth Key is starting to appear on bookstore shelves. {We plan on speaking with him again soon so we can talk more about his new book. You can consider this interview to be the 'pre-game show' for that book.}

        Howard Hendrix at his Hour 25 interview. Picture Copyright © 2002 by Suzanne E. Gibson.  All Rights Reserved.
    I always enjoy talking about writing with Howard because he has a rare gift for explaining the art of writing and deconstructing what it is that authors do when they do what they do when they're working. This might have something to do with his background as a University Professor, but then again most of my college teachers weren't as good as Howard when it comes to explaining things. {I guess we'll just have to classify him as a rare talent and let it go at that.}

    Howard is a writer of no small talent. His books combine thoughtful speculation along with complex and carefully crafted characters driven by logically developed plots. His books are unique, interesting and rewarding reads. Although he has a Ph.D. in Literature, his undergrad background is in biology and so he fills his books with the most wonderfully interesting scientific speculations. {In other words, his books have all the things I'm looking for when I sit down for an evening's reading.}

    I won't try and describe his books to you, just take it from me that they are always excellent and provide a good return on the investment of the time you spend reading them. His books are all most highly recommended.

    Lightpaths - cover Copyright © 1997 by Ace Books

        Empty Cities of the Full Moon - cover Copyright © 2001 by Ace Books

        Standing Wave - cover Copyright © 1998 by Ace Books.

    Lightpaths - cover Copyright © 1997 by Ace Books

         Empty Cities of the Full Moon - cover Copyright © 2001 by Ace Books

    Dateline: Mars

    NASA is releasing all of the images from the two Mars Exploration Rovers almost as soon as they arrive at JPL. The raw images for the Spirit rover can be found at this Web Page and raw images for Opportunity can be found here. The images that have been released to the press, along with animations and other images, can be found here.


    False color image showing the composition of the soil. Image credit NASA/JPL.

    A different false color image showing the  composition of the soil. Image credit NASA/JPL.
    Image Credit: NASA/JPL
    The two images above present data acquired by the rover's Thermal Emission Spectrometer. This data can be used to identify the presence of specific minerals on the Martian surface. In the images above, the red colors indicate the presence of about 20% Hematite and the blues indicate the absence of Hematite. Scientists will be using these and other similar mineral abundance maps to investigate the geologic processes that have shaped the Martian surface.

    A false color image showing the blueberries. Image credit NASA/JPL.

    Blueberries everywhere! Image credit NASA/JPL.
    Image Credit: NASA/JPL
    Blueberries everywhere! The two false-color pictures above show the Martian surface covered by the now famous blueberries. Analysis of these objects suggests that they are geologic features called concretions, which form when minerals precipitate out of wet sediments. This, and other lines of evidence, indicate the presence of large amounts of water on the Martian surface in the past. {Please note, that the colors shown in these pictures are not the ones you would see if you were on Mars yourself, but are artificial colors designed to bring out mineralogical details in the rocks.}

    A rock after it has been drilled.  Image credit NASA/JPL.
    Image Credit: NASA/JPL
    Here's a before and after closeup of a rock that that had a bit of its surface removed by the Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT).

    An eclipse of the sun by Phobos. Image credit NASA/JPL.
    Image Credit: NASA/JPL
    Above are images of an eclipse of the sun by the Martian moon Phobos. Unlike the Earth's Moon, Phobos is too small and too close to Mars to completely cover the disk of the Sun during an eclipse.


    The road behind.   Image credit NASA/JPL.
    Image Credit: NASA/JPL
    The Road Behind
    Above you see the tracks left by Spirit as it drove across the Martian desert. If you look closely at the point where the tracks nearly vanish into the horizon you will see a small dark object. This is the landing stage that delivered the rover to the Martian surface almost two months ago.

    The local area.   Image credit NASA/JPL.
    Image Credit: NASA/JPL
    The image above shows the local area where Spirit has been roving, including the impact crater named Bonneville. Over the last few weeks Spirit has been driving toward this crater in hopes of getting a glimpse inside it so that scientists will have a better understanding of the geology of Mars.

    Bonneville crater.   Image credit NASA/JPL.
    Image Credit: NASA/JPL
    Bonneville crater - color.   Image credit NASA/JPL.
    Image Credit: NASA/JPL
    Bonneville crater - 3D.   Image credit NASA/JPL.
    Image Credit: NASA/JPL
    Above are three views of the interior of Bonneville crater, first in black and white, then in color and finally in 3D - don't forget your red-green glasses for this last one.

    Scientists had been hoping that the interior of this crater would show them some of the local bedrock but that does not seem to be the case. When they understand why they didn't find what they expected to find, the scientists will have unravelled yet another clue to the geologic history of the Red Planet.

    Bonneville crater - color - closeup.  Image credit NASA/JPL.
    Image Credit: NASA/JPL
    And here you have a closeup of the interior of Bonneville crater. Small sand dunes cover the crater's bottom and outcrops of rock line its edges. If you look over on the left side of the far wall of the crater you will see the heatshield from the spacecraft that delivered the lander to Mars.

    Dunes next to Bonneville crater.  Image credit NASA/JPL.
    Image Credit: NASA/JPL
    After taking those pictures of Bonneville crater the rover drove a few feet to the right and discovered these drifts of sand.

    Dunes - before.   Image credit NASA/JPL.     Dunes - after.   Image credit NASA/JPL.
    Image Credit: NASA/JPL
    Spirit later ran one of its wheels over the sand drift so that it could expose materials that had not been weathered by the Martian atmosphere. Understanding how various weathering processes work on Mars is one of the things that the scientists are hoping to learn as a result of their explorations with the rovers. On the left you see the sand drifts as the rover found them and on the right you see those drifts after the rover had exposed samples of unweathered soil.

    Rock markings.   Image credit NASA/JPL.     Track marks - closeup.   Image credit NASA/JPL.
    Image Credit: NASA/JPL
    The left hand picture above shows a Martian rock after Spirit has used its Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT) to cut away the weathered outer layers of the rock. On the right hand picture above you see a color picture of the sand drifts and the marks left by the rover's wheels.

    You are here.   Image credit NASA/JPL.
    Image Credit: NASA/JPL
    On the 63rd Martian day after landing, Spirit photographed the sunset and caught the image of a small point of light that was following the Sun as it dipped below the horizon.

    That point of light was the Earth. I hope you were smiling on that day, 'cause you're in this picture.

    The path ahead - the Columbia Hills.   Image credit NASA/JPL.
    Image Credit: NASA/JPL
    The Path Ahead
    The Columbia hills lie off in the distance as Spirit moves beyond Bonneville crater. Scientists hope that the rover will be able to reach those hills before the wear and tear of being on Mars brings this mission to a close.

    Don't you just wonder what lies on the other side of those hills? I know I do!

    Listen to this show

    • Click here to listen to the entire show. {1:17:25}
    • Click here for the show's intro music.{0:41}
    • Click here for the show's opening. {26:22}
    • Click here for our interview with Howard V. Hendrix. {48:15}
    • Click here for the show's closing.{2:07}

    • Click here to listen to an interview we did with Howard that was originally aired in 2001 and here for an interview with him from 2002.
    • To learn more about how asteroids are tracked and the threats from asteroid impacts you could listen to the interviews we have done with Dr. Brian Marsden or Drs. Dave Tholen and Bill Bottke.
    • Click here to listen to our Current Show.
    • Click here for an index of all Shows on our site.
    Click here if you have a problem hearing the show and you're using Internet Explorer.

    If you enjoyed this show and would like to know when other interviews are uploaded to the Hour 25 web site, then send an email to me at wwjames@earthlink.net and I will add your name to the free Hour 25 Newsletter mailing list. That way you'll get a brief notice in your email every time a new show gets uploaded to the web.

    Links for more information relating to this week's show

    Howard V. Hendrix
  • You can find out more about Howard and his books at his official web page.
  • Click here for a bibliography of Howard's work.
  • You can read a transcript of an on-line conversation with Howard from Chicon here.
  • And if you enjoyed this interview with Howard Hendrix then keep checking back at the Hour 25 web site because we're going to be running another interview with him before too long. If you send an email to me at wwjames@earthlink.net I can add your name to the Hour 25 Newsletter mailing list and you'll know exactly what shows have been uploaded just as soon as they go up.

    Space News - Mars
  • For more information about the Mars Exploration Rovers be sure to check out the MER Web Site at JPL or this Mars Rover site at Cornell University.
  • To learn more about the Mars Express mission you can go to this ESA Mars Express Web Site, this Mars Express Web Page from JPL, this NSSDC Mars Express Web Page, or this Web Page from Mars News.Com.
  • For more information about the Exploration of Mars be sure to go to the JPL Mars Exploration Site, the Center for Mars Exploration at NASA Ames, or the Mars Missions Web Site at the Planetary Society.
  • Information about the data returned by previous Mars missions can be found at this Mars Web Page at the NSSDC.
  • Information about the Phoenix Mission to Mars can be found at this Press Release from the University of Arizona. You can view a 3D picture of the Mars Phoenix spacecraft here.
  • For more Mars news be sure to check out the Mars News.Com Web Site.
  • Percival Lowell did much to shape our ideas about Mars in the early years of the 20th Century. You can learn more about his work by reading this on-line copy of his 1895 book Mars.

    For On-Going Updates on Space News
  • The Reusable Launch & Space Vehicle News Web Site Web Page that is part of the Hobby Space Web Site is a really good place to watch for news about, well... Reusable Launch Vehicles and related subjects. I check it out just about every day and often find news there that doesn't show up anywhere else. Give it a look. {And while you're there be sure to check out some of the site's other pages. Wow! Is there a lot of information there.}
  • The Space Today Web Site is a great place to find space news from all over the 'net.
  • The Spaceflight Now Web Site carries real time information about current space missions and presents a lot of space and astronomy news. This is the place I go to when I want up to the minute information about current space missions. Do I need to say more?
  • The NASA Watch Web Site is another great place for getting information about current space missions. Check there also for news about other 'goings on' within NASA. Highly recommended.

    Space News - The Columbia Accident - On-Going

          The Columbia Accident Report
  • You can read the Report of the Columbia Accident Investigation on-line or download it by going here. {You will also find a link there in case you want to order a hard copy.}

          The Smoking Gun
  • Ongoing testing by NASA seems to have found the "smoking gun" in the Columbia accident. {At least as far as the technical problems go. For information about NASA's management problems, see the news item below.} Tests found that a foam impact on the leading edge of the Shuttle's wing would blow a 16 inch hole in that structure as well as cracking and damaging other parts of the Shuttle's wing. For more information check out these stories from the Orlando Sentinel, Florida Today, Reuters, Spaceflight Now and The Houston Chronicle.

          The Management Problem
  • Be sure to read this story from the Orlando Sentinel which discusses previous Shuttle missions where foam from the ET damaged the Shuttle's TPS and NASA's approach to dealing with this problem in the future.
  • During the Apollo 13 accident the words of Flight Director Gene Krantz, "Failure is not an option", set the tone for what NASA would do and went a long way toward getting the crew safely back to Earth. But during the flight of the Columbia things were quite different. Linda Ham, the head of the Mission Management Team, was not interested in getting better data about the result of the foam impact or coming up with a crash program to rescue the Columbia astronauts because, as she said, "I don't think there is much we can do". Read more about this shocking revelation at this report from the Washington Post and at this story from the Florida Today Web Site .
  • Be sure to check out this story from the Florida Today Web Site which details a long history of unresolved safety issues affecting the Shuttle.

         Concerning Future Developments
  • For an interesting assessment of the Orbital Space Plane project, be sure to read this report by Jeffrey F. Bell. You might or might not agree with him, but his calculations certainly give you something to think about.
  • More information about the Orbital Space Plane (OSP) can be found here, another view about the OSP can be found here and another opinion about this project can be found here.

         On-Going Coverage and Reference Sources
  • The Columbia Accident Investigation Board Web Site is a good source for information about the results of the on-going investigation into the loss of the Columbia.
  • NASA has a Web Site with information about the loss of the Columbia, the on-going investigation into this accident, the crew and other related subjects.
  • CAD Digest has a very good compilation of information about the Columbia accident.
  • Florida Today has a Web Site with updated coverage of the loss of the Columbia.
  • This NASA Web Page contains pictures of the crew of the Columbia along with other pictures from their mission. {Audio files from STS-107 can be found here and video files can be found here.}
  • You can find the Press Kit from the STS-107 mission here.

    ISS News
  • The Florida Today Web Site has a very interesting report about the causes of the ISS budget problems and their impact on the space program. It makes very interesting reading.
  • Click here to view the press kits for various ISS missions.
  • Check out the NASA International Space Station Web Page or the Boeing Web Page to learn more about this project.
  • A great source of news about Russian space activities, including their work on the ISS, can be found at the Russian Space Web.
  • Do you wonder where the Space Station is right now? You can use your browser to view real time maps showing the location of the ISS by going to this link at the NASA Space Link Web Site or here at the Johnson Spacecraft Center. Please note that your browser must support Java to make use of this satellite tracking software.
  • You can find out when the ISS - or many other spacecraft - can be seen from your location by going to this NASA Web Page. Please note; your browser must support Java for this application to work.

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