Mars Curiosity Looks Up, Sees a Crescent Moon

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Phobos hanging in the sky

moonshot.jpg

If there's one thing about space travel that's always enchanted me, it's the idea of looking up into a different sky. Not to reveal too much about my inner nerd, but I may or may not have watched a few hundred episodes of Star Trek: TNG in the lazy Sunday hours after the football games ended. (Oh, Channel 12! The mysteries of your programming choices! Was Weird Al secretly selecting your programs?) The best part, for me, was when they beamed down to a new planet and you'd see two suns in the sky, or a huge planet close by, or ... an unfamiliar moon.

This photograph taken by the Mars Curiosity Rover shows the Martian moon, Phobos, in the upper right quadrant above. A faint crescent hanging in the sky. (That black speck to its left is a bad pixel, FYI.) I know Curiosity's job is to do science, but I just want it to explore on our behalf, to be our eyes, to look up.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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