Having been scarce around trackerland over the last week (on parttime now y'know AND on holiday), I took a cruise through news from Mars to see what reporters are reporting before there is anything to report at all, post-landing, on the new rover other than the stretching and other calisthenics the engineers are putting it through before work gets underway.
Such interregnums from sigificant developments call for resourcefulness from reporters - sort of like those in a presidential candidate press pool who listen to the same stump speech place after place so make do by scurrying about interviewing people in diners where the hands get shaken. Speaking of diners...
- Nature News - Eric Hand: Mars scientists await feast of data ; Wherein Hand who perhaps was buying interviews mission chief scientist John Grotzinger at Conrad's, a place he calls "an unassuming diner in Pasadena" with plastic leather booths whatever plastic leather is. The Conrad's on Walnut must be the place. It's sort of a Pasadena institution, one hears. When I saw Conrad's I first thought he must mean the steak house in La Canada, just up Foothill Blvd from JPL, even closer to mission control than downtown Pasadena and a pretty classy place. That'd be a good place for a reporter with a FAT expense account to take a source. Just went there a few weeks ago with my Dad (96), who lives practically around the corner from this Conrad's, along with much of the extended Petit-Donnelly clan. Everytime I visit I wish I were a beat reporter in herd journalism mode, all of us drawn like moths to a flame when a mission at JPL is teetering between triumph and calamity.
Hand provides a fine example how the intimacy and rich inclusion of irrelevant color surrounding a conversation (rather than a press conference's din) helps readers relax. In the process, they get an engaging review of the challenges facing the JPL team as it gets ready to sic its rover on the nearby hills.
On the wires today one finds another route to solid info that goes down easy due to similar sorts of inside-atmosphere at JPL as it flexes Curiosity's circuits and actuators...
- AP - Seth Borenstein, Alicia Chang: New Geek Chic: Mohawks in, Pocket Protectors Out ; Personally I was struck last week by the discpline by which the JPL rover crew managed to get all its members into blue polo shirts for the landing. Borenstein and Chang find the true motley crew behind one evening's dress code.
This second story does not wrap fresh or insightful info in color. It is all color. Readers of this story should, however, have a good deal more appreciation of the culture and energy of this mission next time they read an account on the rovers hoped-for discoveries. Also, of the fuzzy cultural line between those who most of us call geeks and what some of them refer to, perhaps with just a bit of sympathy, the normals. (Yikes - I gotta coordinate better with Paul Raeburn - I see the new main tracker man did the Mohawk guy AP story too today)
Other NASA Mohawk-Guy stories:
- Wired - Angela Watercutter: NASA Mohawk Guy Bobak Ferdowsi on Sci-Fi, Legos and Becoming a Meme;
- Wash. Post / Style Blog - Maura Judkis: NASA's "Mohawk Guy": 5 reasons the Internet is obsessed with him ;
- MSNBC Cosmic Log - Alan Boyle: NASA's Mohawk Guy marvels at newfound fame ... and Mars mission ;
- USA Today - David Jackson: Obama praises NASA, 'Mohawk Guy' on Mars landing ;
- Reuters - Piya Sinha-Roy: 'NASA Mohawk Guy': Oakland native a star of Mars mission coverage;
- PRI - 'Mohawk Guy' becomes the new face of NASA ;
- Charlie Petit