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Tech journalist since the dark ages. Windows Secrets, LangaList newsletter, Windows Magazine (NetGuide, Home PC), Byte, Popular Computing, yadda yadda yadda. Google me, if it matters.

This feed is mostly personal interest; it's NOT my professional writing. There's tech here, yes, but also lots of general science and some politics and weird humor thrown in.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

10 years on Mars

About 10 years ago, the twin coffee-table-sized rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, bounced onto the opposite sides of Mars on missions designed to last 90 days.

90 days; ha! Spirit trundled on until it died in a sand dune in 2010; Opportunity is still active.

Last weekend, I had the chance to see the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum's current display of some of the best images from both rovers. The exhibit is open until Sept. 14, 2014.

Everyone's seen various images online and in print, but what makes this exhibit unusual is that many of the images are presented in spectacular art-gallery format: very high-quality prints, done very large, tastefully arranged and lit, and presented in a quiet side gallery off the busy main floor.

In a word: It's gorgeous.

Take this shot, for example: a 160-degree panorama of the El Dorado Dune Field, as seen by Spirit. Viewed this way, in your browser, it looks nice enough.

But the Smithsonian printed it wall-sized, maybe 8 feet (2.5m) wide. Viewed that way, it's stunning.

There are many others on display, too.

Opportunity's tracks while crossing Rub Al Khali, named after the Arabian Desert's “Empty Quarter;” also printed and displayed in very large format:

Sunset over the rim of Gusev Crater:

The exhibit is open until Sept. 14, 2014. If you have a chance to get to DC, it's worthwhile.