Today is #Election2015 day in the UK so I’m going to post some Prime Ministerial and Government cars. It’s 7am, the polls have just opened so here is a P5B Rover 3.5 Litre outside No. 10 Downing Street (circa 1977)

The 3½ Litre was a favourite with Government Ministers, and served as Prime Ministerial transport for Harold Wilson, Edward Heath, James Callaghan and Margaret Thatcher. The last batch of P5Bs to roll off the Rover line in June 1973 were purchased by the British government and placed in storage, to be released as required. Consequently relatively new-looking P5Bs were a familiar sight in Westminster for a decade after production ended.

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This is a “Penguin rover” used to study Emperor penguins in Antarctica.

It’s equipped with a spy cam to assist in studying these shy animals. Researchers found that approaching these emperor penguins normally would result in their heart rates rising, producing unreliable data.

This rover works very well, enough to even entice communication from the penguins. According to researchers the penguins were “very disappointed” when the rover didn’t respond, prompting the researchers to plan to have the rover playing penguin songs on it’s next trip.

(Via Cnet, Nature)

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Mostly Mute Monday: Marvelous Mars

“In 2012, Mars Science Laboratory performed the first ever robotically-controlled soft landing on Mars of a spacecraft of such magnitude: nearly half a tonne. Months later, as martian winter approached, Curiosity took full advantage of its state-of-the-art equipment to take the first ever billion-pixel panorama of its location…”

When Curiosity landed on the martian surface in 2012, surviving “seven minutes of terror,” it went straight to work, examining its surroundings and teaching us about the martian geology of its region. But by time the end of the (Earth) year came around, it began to embark upon a different project: constructing the first billion-pixel mosaic panorama of the Red Planet’s surface. The results, well, spectacularly speak for themselves.

Sunset Watched by Opportunity

Mars is often described as the “Red Planet” due to its reddish appearance, however, the combination of dust particles and atmospheric conditions on Mars make for some unusual sunset colors; both the sun’s disk and the sky surrounding the sun appear blue at sunset. 

Mars has a thin atmosphere that is dominated by dust; the reddish color of the sky is caused by the fine red dust (oxidized iron) that is suspended in the Martian atmosphere, the blue glow surrounding the sun is created by light scattered at small angles by the very same dust particles. While the disk of the sun would only appear blue at sunset, when the optical path is longest, or when sunlight passes through a larger amount of dust, e.g.  during a dust storm, the blue glow around the sun should be visible throughout the Martian day.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Texas A&M

WATER FOUND ON MARS. Curiosity rover finds ancient water inside Martian rock.

The rover drilled into a piece of Martian rock called Cumberland and found some ancient water hidden within it. Researchers were then able to test a key ratio in the water with Curiosity’s onboard instruments to gather more data about when Mars started to lose its water, NASA officials said. In the same sample, Curiosity also detected the first organic molecules it has found. Mission scientists announced the discovery in a news conference Dec. 15 at the American Geophysical Union’s convention in San Francisco, where they also unveiled Curiosity’s.

More info: http://mashable.com/2014/12/17/curiosity-mars-water/?utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Mashable+%28Mashable%29&utm_cid=Mash-Prod-RSS-Feedburner-All-Partial&utm_medium=feed&utm_source=feedburner

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Moon Drawings

Project by Golan Levin & David Newbury will bring your contributed drawings to the moon (and may even be drawn onto the surface by a rover robot):

Welcome to Moon Drawings: a project to extend artistic expression to the Moon. We invite you to contribute a drawing—which will be etched on a sapphire disc, sent to the Moon, and potentially traced by a robot rover into the Moon’s soil. The disc, contained in a sculpture called the Moon Arts Ark, will be shuttled to the Moon in 2016. It will remain there for millenia: a poetic gesture reaching out, far beyond any objective existence on Earth.

There are currently roughly 9950 drawing spaces left - if you would like to contribute a drawing you can at the project website here