Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Astronomers hope for good weather - on Mars


As well as keeping their fingers crossed for good weather during next week’s close approach of Mars, astronomers are hoping that the skies will be clear on Mars itself.

During National Astronomy Week - Saturday 23 to Saturday 30 August - observing events will be held across the UK where the public can view Mars through telescopes. It is expected that thousands of people will turn out to see the planet closer than it has been for almost 60,000 years. But it’’s not just our own familiar clouds that could spoil the view. There is a risk that a major dust storm on Mars could wipe out any of the surface details visible on the planet.

Mars’s orbit round the Sun is not circular, and its distance from the Sun varies by over 20 per cent. So when it is close to the Sun, as it is now, the additional solar heating can whip up dust storms that can cover huge areas. The most severe can cover the entire planet. This happened in 1971, for instance, just as the US Mariner 9 space probe arrived at the planet. Its cameras revealed a barren disc, with no detail at all. Mars’s atmosphere was filled with fine dust from pole to pole. Observers on Earth confirmed that no details could be seen for a whole month.

At Mars’s last close approach in 2001, another planet-wide storm occurred, and pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope showed the planet looking like a red billiard ball, with the polar caps and markings appearing only dimly.

Already this year, a dust storm has obscured detail on Mars. In July, winds whipped up dust in the Hellas region of Mars to cover an area greater than 1000 miles. They subsided after a week or so, and currently the Martian atmosphere is clear again.

’’We are all hoping that Mars will stay dust-free during National Astronomy Week,’’ said Robin Scagell, NAW publicity officer. ’’It would be a great disappointment if all people could see was an orange blob.’’

Scagell says that observers would actually prefer slightly hazy weather on Earth for good Mars observation. ’’Mars will be very low in the sky this year. Slight mist often helps to reduce atmospheric turbulence. On clear nights when the stars are twinkling like mad, the planet is all over the place and it’’s hard to see any detail.’’

Robin Scagell | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Scientists discover particles similar to Majorana fermions
25.10.2016 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

nachricht Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves
24.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Enormous dome in central Andes driven by huge magma body beneath it

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Deep down fracking wells, microbial communities thrive

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>