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 First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles
13.07.2018 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Simpler interferometer can fine tune even the quickest pulses of light
12.07.2018 | University of Rochester

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: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Research finds new molecular structures in boron-based nanoclusters

13.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

Algae Have Land Genes

13.07.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>