Drilling into the history books

CuriosityCuriosity has completed its first sample-gathering drilling operation on Mars.

The news was confirmed in a NASA press release on February 9th (and in a Tweet “from” Curiosity itself!), with the actual sample gathering exercise taking place on Sol 182 of the mission ( February 8th/9th).

This marks the first time samples have been obtained from inside a Martian rock for analysis. Even so, it will be a while before any of the powdered material reaches the rover’s on-board science instruments.

The boring operation took place a few centimetres from the “mini drill test” performed earlier in the week and which I reported on here, with the drill cutting some 6.4cm (2.5 inches) into the bedrock dubbed “John Klein”. This was deep enough for powdered cuttings to be pushed up behind the drill head and into the sample collection mechanism within the drill.

“We commanded the first full-depth drilling, and we believe we have collected sufficient material from the rock to meet our objectives of hardware cleaning and sample drop-off,” said Avi Okon, drill cognizant engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, following the operation.

An image returned by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) showing the “mini drill test” hole bored into John Klein on Sol 180 (February 6th) to the right, and the deeper sample-gathering hole drilled into the rock on Sol 182 (February 8th/9th) on the left

Commenting on the achievement, NASA associate director for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate, and himself a former astronaut, John Grunsfeld said, “The most advanced planetary robot ever designed is now a fully operating analytical laboratory on Mars. This is the biggest milestone accomplishment for the Curiosity team since the sky-crane landing last August.”

Even so, it will be a while before any of the gathered sample will be transferred to Curiosity’s Chemical and Minerology (CheMin) and Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instruments. The sample is currently being held in a small sample collection chamber in the drill mechanism itself, which it reached after being “pushed” up flutes in the side of the drill bit. Some of the gathered material will now be used to scour traces of contaminants which may have been deposited onto the hardware while the rover was still on Earth, despite thorough cleaning before launch.

A mosaic of the "John Klein" drill site showing the areas identified for drilling relative to the actual dilling location. These images were capture by the rover's Mascam system, and the "shoulder" joint of the robot arm can be seen protruding into the picture from the bottom
A mosaic of the “John Klein” drill site showing the areas identified for drilling relative to the actual drilling location. These images were capture by the rover’s Mastcam system, and the “shoulder” joint of the robot arm can be seen protruding into the picture from the bottom edge. This is a white-balanced image showing the rock surface as it would appear in normal Earth lighting conditions

Please use the page numbers below to continue reading this article

Rise up and Dance: the OBR in SL official video


On February 14, 2013, for 24 hours starting at midnight Pacific Standard Time, Second Life residents will join with activists around the world in a spectacular 24-hour dance event for ONE BILLION RISING, the largest day of action in the history of V-Day, the global activist movement to end violence against women and girls.

Further Information

RFL of SL: Team Registrations, Relay Rap and Fashion for Life

RFL-logoThis week sees activities for the 2013 Relay for Life of Second Life well and truly get underway with the return of Relay Rap and the opening of this year’s Team Registrations.

As with previous years, activities will be held across the grid in the months and weeks ahead of the Relay for Life weekend in July, and will also follow-on from the weekend through until the end of the year, and participating teams are being encouraged to join-in, organise events and raise money for the fight against cancer.

Team Registrations Open

On Friday 8th February, Team Registrations for RFL of SL opened. To quote from the official documentation on the role of RFL of SL Teams:

Forming a Relay For Life team in Second Life is an important undertaking. It will be a lot work and a huge commitment, but one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have in Second Life. You and your team will become part of the Relay family, and together we will raise money and awareness in the fight against cancer!

Teams require both a Captain and a Co-captain as well as a name. There are no restrictions on the overall size of a team, but both the Captain and Co-captain must be prepared to give up a sizeable amount of their SL time throughout the 2013 RFL season, leading  and motivating their team and keeping everyone focused on success in fundraising. There will be Team Captain training and informational meetings held throughout the season to assist Team Captains, and all Captains are encouraged to attend.


Teams hold events throughout SL with the aim of raising funds for the cause, can have camps at the Relay Weekend regions and of course participate in the Relay Weekend itself. For further ideas on team and activities, see the RFL of SL team roster, and example of events already being organised by teams can be found on the Team Events webpage.

There are a few basic rules and guidelines to go with group formation and applications:

  • Team names should be PG and not have sexually explicit connotations, inappropriate wording or curse words
  • All team names must be approved by the RFL of SL Team Chair
  • For ease of communications, it is recommended that teams should form an in-world group with the team name, or use a suitable mailbox system, as available on the SL Marketplace.

Once a team has been registered with RFL of SL, a member of the Teams Coordination Committee will pass along information to help get things started, including contact details for the RFL of SL Coaches Committee, to whom teams can reach out to with questions and requests.

The team registration form is now available on the RFL of SL website.

Fashion For Life

This year’s Fashion for Life runs from Sunday March 9th through until Monday March 17th. With the theme of “The Seven Wonders of the World”, the event will take place across seven themed regions and two event regions, and shop reservations are now being taken. The following should be noted if applying for a store:

  • The entry fee for a Fashion For Life store is L$5,000
  • All payments must only be made to FASHION4LIFE2013 Resident
  • Once the entry fee has been paid, the transaction record should be copy/pasted to Anne Daumig who will send an invite to join the FASHION4LIFE Group
  • Designers are asked to contribute 3 new and EXCLUSIVE items to be sold only at Fashion For Life with 100% of sales going to Relay For Life. Sales from any other vendor go completely to the designer.

For further information on Fashion for Life, please refer to the Best of SL blog.

Sponsorship Opportunities

There are still some RFL of SL sponsorship opportunities available. Sponsorship brings with it special recognition and promotion, and is open to organisations and business both inside of and outside of Second Life, as well as individuals and teams.

Details on the available sponsorship opportunities can be found on the RFL of SL website,, which includes details of who to contact in the RFL of SL team.

Relay Rap – Starting Sunday 10th February

relayrapSunday February 10th marks the return of the Relay Rap radio show. From 16:00 SLT on the 10th February through until 10:00 on Saturday July 13th, Relay Rockers  proudly present a weekly talk show for and about Relay For Life of Second Life, The American Cancer Society, The Teams, The Events, and YOU-Relay World and an hour of fun and information.

The show is open to the public to attend the broadcasts, which will be held at the Relay Raps stage on Arinultra Cay every Sunday through until the Relay Weekend.

Related Links

Longfellow, valentines and intrigue

Once again, the Seanchai Library will be presenting a round of stories and readings in Voice this coming week, with the continuation of a number of stories and also delving into Longfellow’s classic narrative poem.

As always, all times SLT, and unless otherwise stated, events will be held on the Seanchai Library’s home on Imagination Island.

Sunday 10th February

13:30 – Tea-time at Baker Street – The Adventure of the Gloria Scott

Holmes himself recounts the tale of the very first case in which he employed his powers of deduction to solve a mystery.

In his college days, Holmes was invited by his friend, Victor Trevor to spend a month at the family’s estate in Norfolk. While there, Holmes amazed Trevor’s father, a justice of the peace, with his powers of reasoning by correctly identifying the elder Trevor had made his fortune in the goldfields in Australia and was once connected to someone with the initials “J. A.” whom he wanted to forget.

Holmes himself is somewhat surprised when the elder Trevor passes out in shock at the accuracy of his deductions, and is less-than-convinced by the older man’s explanation that Holmes had touched upon a sore spot, and that “J.A.” had once been a lover.

Perceiving he was making his host’s father uncomfortable with his presence, Holmes opts to leave, but before he can do so, he witnesses the elder Trevor inebriated after receiving an unexpected guest  – a shipmate he had known some 30 years before. This shipmate, called Hudson, came seeking employment. Seven weeks after his departure, Holmes is contacted by Victor Trevor and learns that things at the Norfolk estate are very much amiss, that Victor’s father is near death – and everything seems to revolve around Hudson, the former shipmate and now estate employee. Thus, Holmes returns to Norfolk and embarks on his first adventure – that of the Gloria Scott.

Caledonia Skytower returns to bring us more from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes continues!

18:00 Mary Poppins (at Magicland Park)

mary-poppinsMade famous through the hugely successful 1964 Disney film starring Julie Andrews and a wobbly accented Dick van Dyke (albeit an adaptation despised by Travers herself), and more recently the focus of a successful West End and Broadway stage production, the adventures of the famous umbrella piloting nanny need no real introduction here in terms of their story.

First published in 1934, Mary Poppins was actually the first in a series of stories about the character written by Travers between 1934 and 1988, all illustrated by Mary Shephard, the daughter of Winnie the Pooh and The Wind in the Willows illustrator, E.H. Shephard. Mary actually took the job on account of her father being too busy with other work, and later became regarded as a co-author of the tales.

Join Caladonia at Magicland Park as she continues with Part 3 of this magical tale.

Monday 11th February, 19:00 – “Who you callin’ Valentine?”

Crap Mariner returns with a host of 100 word stories with a theme to suit this romantic time of year…

Tuesday 12th February, 19:00: Inkspell

Faerie Maven-Pralou bring us the conclusion of Cornelia Funke’s young adult which forms the second part of her Inkworld trilogy. The books chronicle the adventures of teenager Meggie Folchart whose life changes dramatically when she realizes that she and her father, a bookbinder named Mo, have the unusual ability to bring characters from books into the real world when reading aloud. Mostly set in Northern Italy and the parallel world of the fictional Inkheart book, the central story arc concerns the magic of books, their characters and creatures, and the art of reading.

In Inkspell, a year has passed since the events related in Inkheart, the first book in the series. Not a day goes by without Meggie thinking of Inkheart, a book that has characters that come to life. Resa is back. The fire-eater, Dustfinger, wants to go back to his wife daughters-who are in the story. When he finds a crazy, self-absorbed psycho storyteller, Orpheus, who can read him back into the book, he goes into the pages. Soon Farid convinces Meggie to read him into the book so he can warn Dustfinger of Basta. But Meggie has figured out how to read herself and Farid into the book Inkheart.

Wednesday 13th February, 19:00: Quite a Year for Plums

plumsAnyone who has read the best-selling Mama Makes Up Her Mind or listened to Bailey White’s commentaries on NPR knows that she is a storyteller of inimitable wit and charm. Now, in her stunningly accomplished first novel, she introduces us to the peculiar yet lovable people who inhabit a small town in south Georgia.

Meet serious, studious Roger, the peanut pathologist and unlikely love object of half the town’s women. Meet Roger’s ex-mother-in-law, Louise, who teams up with an ardent typographer in an attempt to attract outer-space invaders with specific combinations of letters and numbers. And meet Della, the bird artist who captivates Roger with the sensible but enigmatic notes she leaves on things she throws away at the Dumpster.

Kayden Oconnell is joined by Caledonia Skytower as they continue to read from the novel.

Thursday 14th February, 19:00: The Courtship of Miles Standish

Thus for a while he stood, and mused by the shore of the ocean,
Thinking of many things, and most of all of Priscilla;
And as if thought had the power to draw to itself, like the loadstone,
Whatsoever it touches, by subtile laws of its nature,
Lo! as he turned to depart, Priscilla was standing beside him.

Written in 1858 by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and set against the backdrop of a fierce Indian war, this narrative poem tells the tales of a love triangle between three Pilgrims: Miles Standish, Priscilla Mullens, and John Alden.

A work of fiction, or a tale handed down over generations? Longfellow claimed he was relating oral history handed down through the generations of his family. Mullens, Standish and Alden were the names of real-life Pilgrims, but skeptics dismiss the poem as folklore, and the historical evidence is inconclusive. Nevertheless, the poem was very popular in nineteenth-century America, immortalizing the Mayflower Pilgrims.

Join Shandon Loring as he presents Longfellow’s poem for Valentine’s Day.

Please check with the Seanchai Library SL’s blog for updates and additions to the week’s schedule.

Note that throughout January and February, all donations to Seanchai Library SL will go to the real-world charity, Doctors Without Borders! Have questions? IM or notecard Caledonia Skytower.

Related Links