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Scott “marsroverdriver” Maxwell
Works at Google
Attended University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Lives in Pasadena, CA
45,942 followers|4,281,288 views


I've been mulling over an idea for an art project.

It would consist of selfies taken at famous monuments and artworks around the world. But, and here's the key, the selfie-takers would be in the foreground, larger than life and crystal clear; the monuments, by contrast, would be backgrounded, indistinct.

Thus it would invert the normal relationship between subject and object, as if to say that the selfie-taker was the composition's most important feature. "_You_ are not the important thing here, O Eiffel Tower, O Great Pyramids, O Parthenon, O Victoria Falls," it would say. "No, what's important is that I, Jane Twiddlebottom, stood here and took this photo."

I shall call this art project "Instagram."
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Now, if you were to approach this as a serious art project, it has potential.  Wear the same clothes in each shot, and center yourself in the selfie, at the same angle, then make an extremely rapid gif that cycles through them, so it looks like it's just the background changing.  A travelogue, of your journey, not the places you went, but the places you were.
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Carl Sagan believed that selling NASA on the strength of its spinoffs was a mistake. With the greatest of respect to the good doctor, I submit that at least pointing out NASA's awesome spinoffs from time to time can only do good. So here are some. :-)
You can thank the US space agency for personal locator beacons.
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Cool. I was somehow unaware of that water finds. Also, where can I pick up one of those analyzing logarithms? :)
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Even though I can't imagine who else could possibly find this interesting: here's 33 seconds of Austrian ducks flying, at 400 frames per second.
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Well, hot damn: +SpaceX​ is heading to Mars in 2018. Characteristically bold of them, and bolder still to head straight for landing on the the surface, instead of the easier job of swooping into Mars orbit. They're benefiting from NASA's expertise but not taking their money, and all science data will be public (some of it after a six-month embargo). +Elon Musk​ might just die there after all.
Artist's concept of SpaceX's Red Dragon spacecraft landing on Mars. Credit: SpaceX. Elon Musk's space transport company — chartered with a long-term goal of colonizing Mars — plans to send the first commercial mission to the red planet as soon as 2018 with assistance from NASA, SpaceX announced ...
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Vanity engineering masquerading as science. 
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Saturn's moon Titan’s second-largest lake, Ligeia Mare, is apparently pure methane, not (as was once thought) ethane. On Titan, the equivalent of Earth's water cycle is a methane cycle -- the world literally rains the stuff, making the only off-Earth liquid lakes in the solar system. But scientists expected that sunlight would break the lake's methane down into ethane. Apparently not: it seems that rain and rivers feed methane into the lake much faster than the sun can break it down.
Data from Cassini spacecraft suggests that an organic sludge lines the seafloor.
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(check author list. Whoo-hoo!)
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Best summary of the encryption "debate" yet.
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I'd heard rumors about this, but now it's official: the ExoMars rover's launch, the follow-on to the orbiter launched earlier this year, will be delayed from 2018 to 2020.

That sucks, but it's always better to take the time to do these things right than to rush them. It's hard enough to succeed in space when everything is ready for launch. When you rush a spacecraft, the result, one way or another, is usually: no spacecraft.

What's really interesting is that China is making noises about being ready for the same launch opportunity. And, of course, the US's next rover is targeting 2020 as well. So if all goes to plan, there might be three Mars rovers launched in the same window, all arriving on Mars at about the same time.

I'm sure Opportunity will welcome the company.
Artist's concept of the ExoMars rover. Credit: ESA. Europe's ExoMars rover will not be ready for launch in 2018, officials said Monday, forcing a two-year delay for the ambitious mission to drill into the Martian surface and search for the remnants of past life. Delays in the development of the ...
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One way to read this is: NASA is committing to (or, if you like, gambling on) +SpaceX's hoped-for landing system. If so, it's a heck of a high-stakes gamble: should it fail, NASA is essentially back to square one when it comes to landing large payloads on our neighboring planet.

In any case, this is typical of Congress: insist on certain goals for NASA (here, landing humans or other large payloads on Mars), then refuse to fund them adequately. Jerks.

Sorry, Mark. This blows.
Nooooooooooooooo they are cutting funding for the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator which was supposed to help us land larger payloads on Mars!

A year ago this was listed as one of the most promising technology projects. I'm so sorry +Mark Adler​​​​​​​​​​​ ;-(

Congress moved the RESTORE-L satellite servicing from NASA’s space operations budget account to space technology, and directed NASA spend $133 million, or nearly 20 percent of the overall space technology budget, on it.

_"The net effect is that we had to find $40 million to cut from other space technology programs", Reuter said. That ultimately included LDSD as well as a project to study composite structures for use on the Space Launch System’s upper stage._
NASA is cutting funding for a Mars landing technology demonstration project by about 85 percent in response to space technology budget reductions.
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Characteristically clever of +SpaceX​: they've been quietly testing supersonic retro-propulsion, the core technology they hope to use to land humans on Mars, for years already. And they've been doing it right under our noses, as a side effect of the rocket launches they were doing anyway. They ran the tests as their rockets fell back through the zone of Earth's atmosphere that closely resembles Mars's atmosphere.

And it works, too. With it, they'll be able to increase by a factor of six the largest payloads we can deliver to the Martian surface, making a human mission feasible.

No wonder NASA is so eager to work with them. Nicely done, folks. Nicely done.
Company has quietly tested Mars landing techniques with its first stage returns.
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+Chet Harris All right, then prepare to be made a fool of. <shrug>
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Here's what it's like to develop a Mars drill to penetrate deep into the planet for the first time -- not just a few centimeters, like past rovers, but tens or hundreds of meters. Those are the depths where you stand a chance of finding liquid water and, if it's there to find, extant life.
A compact, low-energy drill could go tens of meters below the Martian surface.
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Prague : architecture :: New Orleans : food. Discuss.

I am just overwhelmed by the beauty of this city. It's the kind of place where you can point a camera in any random direction, cover your eyes, and take the picture, and it'll come out great -- and yet I know I can never do this place justice. I hope some of its sheer gorgeousness comes through.

Oh, and: graffiti doesn't normally bother me; occasionally it's quite intriguing, and mostly I can take it or leave it. But in Prague, it should be a capital crime.

(Edit: Dang it, why aren't the pictures showing up below? G+, you have failed me. Well, click there anyway, and you'll see them.)
18 new photos · Album by Scott “marsroverdriver” Maxwell
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Prague's Museum of Communism is above a McDonald's. (See bottom right of poster.) Irony left as an exercise for the reader. :-)
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Even more fitting, IIRC it's also in the same building as a casino 
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Have him in circles
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  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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I'm a pretty big wheel down at the cracker factory.
On a small red light in the night sky lives four hundred pounds of thinking metal sent from Earth.  Once upon a time, I told that metal what to do.

(Disclaimer: my opinions are mine, not my employer's.  Duh. :-)
Bragging rights
I fought cancer and won. I had a robot on another planet, and I drove it around and made it do stuff. I was a trending topic on Twitter. I wrote a book. I took a privacy case all the way to the Supreme Court. Now I keep Google up and running. But I'm just this guy, you know?
Site Reliability Engineer
  • Google
    Site Reliability Engineer, 2013 - present
  • JPL
    Mars Rover Driver Team Lead, 2013
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Pasadena, CA
Rocky Mount, NC - Seminole, FL - Greenville, NC - Champaign, IL
Gorgeous, swanky place with great views and excellent customer service.
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reviewed 2 weeks ago
Our AC went out over the weekend and we were *miserable*. (I used to think that when the zombocalypse comes, I'd miss showers most of all, but now I'm thinking I'll have to revise that to air conditioning.) We called In N Out Air Monday morning and were, thankfully, able to get an appointment for the same afternoon. Hovik showed up right on time, fixed our problem fast, and charged us a fair price. He was even exceptionally polite about letting me watch over his shoulder while he narrated what he was doing, so I could learn more about how AC units work! (Indeed, he was extremely professional and friendly throughout.) And boy, were we relieved when that cold air started flowing again. He emphasized on his way out that they have a one-year parts and labor guarantee. I simply could not be happier with my experience. Well done, In N Out Air!
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Public - 8 months ago
reviewed 8 months ago
Vroman's is my favorite bookstore of all time. Great selection, friendly and helpful staff, wonderful events, and upstairs is a terrific kids' section, greeting cards, and more. They'll even gift-wrap your purchases for free, which has been handy a number of times!
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Roberto is one of my favorite artists. We have two of his pieces hanging in our home, soon to be joined by a third (my wedding gift to my new wife!).
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When you want this kind of food, In-N-Out does it better than anyone. And I've never had a single bad experience with an employee.
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