Chair Ted Endreny asked me to write an occasional piece for the departmental website. I’m pleased at the opportunity as this will allow me to keep in touch with the program and the many students and friends I’ve known over the years.

Some of you may remember that I’m fascinated by fluid flow on extraterrestrial  bodies, e.g., water on Mars and liquid methane on Titan. I have therefore followed with great interest the exploits of the rover Curiosity on the surface of Mars. I watched the launch on the web on November 26, 2011 and waited anxiously during the complex landing sequence in the early morning hours of August 6, 2012. I have been following the mission at the NASA website. I was especially intrigued by some early images that appeared to show an ancient fluvial channel (see the images). Other missions, especially the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, found evidence of recent, short duration pulses of water flow emanating from crater rims (see for example).

Curiosity Rover searches for rivers on Mars and garners the pride of former ERE Chair Jim Hassett.

Curiosity Rover searches for rivers on Mars and garners the pride of former ERE Chair Jim Hassett.

I was always impressed by the robust combination of skills (fluid mechanics, mapping sciences, image processing) our ERE students used in the class projects we worked on, in both the terrestrial and extraterrestrial environments. It was a combination of skills that made our engineering program unique.

Evidence of an ancient river - the rocks are now part of a conglomerate but their rounded edges suggest they had tumbled along a river bed.

Evidence of an ancient river – the rocks are now part of a conglomerate but their rounded edges suggest they had tumbled along a river bed.

As you surely know, I’m retired now, living the good life. I’m curious (and I speak for Chair Ted Endreny and the other faculty members as well) as to how you’re doing. Send an email with news; my email address hasn’t changed. We’d be delighted to hear from you.

Advertisements