Cover Story

Zapping Mars: Using Lasers to Determine the Chemistry of the Red Planet

Noureddine Melikechi, Roger Wiens, Horton Newsom and Sylvestre Maurice

When NASA’s rover Curiosity landed successfully on Mars last August, it opened a new chapter in space exploration: the use of laser-based instruments to probe the surface of other planets. The nearly one-ton rover was designed to be a... more>>

Features

Adolph Lomb: Patronage, Industry and Optics in Early 20th-Century America

Victoria N. Meyer

Adolph Lomb did not make any major discoveries or publish original works; yet his influence on early 20th century optics was monumental. Reminiscent of the wealthy princes and patrons of the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods, he advanced optics by generously supporting the field—and the Society devoted to it. more>>


All about Sparkles

Alfred Cann

Sparkles are a magnificent manifestation of optics in nature, and nowhere are they as abundant as on freshly fallen snow. Because they evade our depth-perception mechanism, sparkles have an otherworldly quality that makes them seem to float indeterminately rather than appearing on any surface or at any altitude. more>>