Gerbis/Greer: At Mars site, NASA scientists used obscure baseball history to cover their bases

From Nicholas Gerbis and SABR member Tracy Greer at KJZZ on January 4, 2017:

What do Mars exploration and baseball history have in common? More than either seamheads or scientists may think.

Steven W. Ruff, associate professor with ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, was part of the Spirit rover team and oversaw use of one of its instruments, including the miniature thermal emission spectrometer (Mini-TES).

When the Spirit team saw the Mars study site from space, they they nicknamed it “Home Plate” because it resembled the baseball plate.

“We arrived at Home Plate and we decided to use a baseball theme for the targets that we were studying,” Ruff said. “It’s a way to actually help remember things more easily than alphanumeric.”

The scientists chose obscure rather than common baseball references. Ruff said naming conventions are often used to honor people and places in the Earth’s history.

For example, the study subjects “Elizabeth Mahon” and “Norma Luker” were named for two Kenosha Comets players and are featured in the findings of Ruff and Jack D. Farmer, published in the Nov. 17 edition of Nature Communications.

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Originally published: January 4, 2017. Last Updated: January 4, 2017.