Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Astronomers hope for good weather - on Mars

21.08.2003


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:
http://www.astronomyweek.org.uk
http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/2001/31/

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions
27.04.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history
26.04.2017 | Southwest Research Institute

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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>