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Re: Tomography For Fossil Hunting

--- "Richard W. Travsky" <rtravsky@uwyo.edu> wrote:
> a proposed Neutron/Gamma ray Geologic Tomography (NUGGET)
> instrument
> to be one of the most useful tools in their toolbelt. 
> If a
> mechanical rover that explores planet surfaces were equipped with an
> instrument like NUGGET  capable of peering beneath the surface  then
> it
> might be able to reveal evidence of life beyond Earth. 
> ...
> ====
> Mars? What about right here on Earth?
    On Earth, you can 
- (1) use a bigger hammer (I'm working on about 50,000 tonnes of
drilling rig with 97 people working on board, but in this context, it's
just a bigger hammer); 
- (2) come back with a *really big* hammer next week, and a stick of
- (3) get six pieces of "cannon fodder" (graduate students; mudloggers;
"whatever" in your local context) to dismantle the entire outcrop after
your super-duper-big hammer broke the specimen, and find the next
specimen by sieving through the next 100 years of normal erosion with
the proverbial fine-tooth electron microscope;

    NASA seem to think that "hammers" on this scale might be rather
expensive to ship to Mars.
    Besides, big hammers don't have the technological "go-faster"
stripes and cool (b)-acronyms that are NASA's forte.

    Seriously though ... a large part of NASA's point in existence is
to justify development of sophisticated tools which later turn out to
have more general applicability. The hackneyed example is the non-stick
frying pan. But in this context ... well of course the new tools have
got to be developed, field tested, miniaturised and ruggedised on
Earth, and what better way than to send them on a voyage into the guts
of an Antarctic volcano, or on an unsupported fossicking ramble across
Area 51 (as long as they only look down <G>)? And by the time they're
on prototype # 15, then prototypes 1 through 14 will be finding their
ways into the twitching little paws of earth-bound rock-sniffers such
as your good self.

    Oh, I get it. You're staking your position in line to get your
hands on an early example, aren't you? <G>

Aidan Karley,

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