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 Hope to discover sure signs of life on Mars? New research says look for the element vanadium
22.09.2017 | University of Kansas

nachricht Calculating quietness
22.09.2017 | Forschungszentrum MATHEON ECMath

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: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>