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Observing Mars

Observing Mars

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Observing Mars

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  1. Observing Mars By Brad Jarvis

  2. Overview • Basic facts • Orbits and distance • Viewing Mars from Earth • The view from space • Current exploration • Conclusion • References

  3. Basic Facts about Mars • Location is fourth from the Sun • Day is about the same as an Earth day • Year is nearly two Earth years long • Size is half Earth’s, with about the same land area • Gravity is about 1/3 that of Earth • Atmosphere is mostly CO2 at less than 1% the air pressure on Earth • Temperature is -125°F to -13°F • Two moons are possibly captured asteroids

  4. Orbits and Distance • Mars is: • 35-63 million miles away from Earth at opposition • 128-142 million miles away from the Sun

  5. Viewing Mars from Earth

  6. Viewing Mars from EarthApparent SizeThe apparent size of Mars varies between 14 and 25 arcseconds at opposition (1/133 and 1/75 the apparent size of the Moon)

  7. Viewing Mars from EarthAlbedo FeaturesCommon types of features:Lacus (lake), Mare (sea), Regio (region), Sinus (bay) Map courtesy Daniel Troiani (producer), Carlos Hernandez (named features), ALPO

  8. Viewing Mars from EarthThe Colors of Mars • Red is the color of iron-rich dust • Dark gray is the color of volcanic rock • White is the color of ice

  9. Viewing Mars from EarthChanges in Appearance • Apparent tilt of poles varies with relative positions of Earth and Mars • Sizes of polar regions get smaller in summer and larger in winter • Clouds can be white (water and CO2 ice) or red (dust) • Dust storms usually occur in southern summer and may engulf the planet • Features appear dark or light depending on presence of dust

  10. The View from SpaceDust storm from Hubble Space Telescope

  11. The View from SpaceA Confusion of Orientation • Earth-based photos and maps are oriented so that south is up • Space-based photos and maps are oriented so that north is up • There have been two different longitude references for space-based maps since 2002

  12. The View from SpaceMapping the SurfaceCommon types of features:Chasma (chasm),Fossa (long valley), Mons (mountain), Patera (crater), Planitia (plain), Planum (plateau), Terra (land), Tholus (hill), Vallis (valley), Vastitas (lowland)

  13. The View from SpaceMartian Geology

  14. The View from Space: Martian GeologyCratered Terrain • Older parts of Mars are heavily cratered • Typically in the southern hemisphere Noachis Terra (Noachis)

  15. The View from Space: Martian GeologyNorthern Plains • Younger parts of Mars are lightly cratered • Typically in the northern hemisphere

  16. The View from Space: Martian GeologyChannels and “Canals” • Water likely carved channels in the surface • Some of the famous “canals” seen from Earth may have dust blown by the wind Xanthe Terra (Oxia Pallus)

  17. The View from Space: Martian GeologyValles Marineris • Valles Marineris is the largest canyon in the Solar System. It is the width of the lower 48 states of the U.S. and up to four miles deep. • It is a fracture caused by the uplift of volcanoes in the Tharsis region .

  18. The View from Space: Martian GeologyTharsis and Olympus Mons • Tharsis is a region where the crust has uplifted. It is about 2,500 miles across and six miles high. • Sitting atop this uplift are shield volcanoes, the largest of which is Olympus Mons. It is over 300 miles across, and 15 miles high.

  19. The View from Space: Martian GeologyHellas • Hellas Planitia is one of two large impact basins (Argyre Planitia is the other). It is 1,100 miles across and five miles deep. • It is full of fast-cooling dust. It has been seen with frost and haze in the mornings.

  20. Current Exploration • Two Mars Exploration Rovers (left) will land on opposite sides of Mars in January 2004. They will study rocks over a maximum range of about 3/4 mile per day. • Mars Express (including an orbiter and lander, right) will arrive at Mars in December 2003. It is the first mission since Viking to look for life.

  21. Conclusion Mars is an entire world, with the same amount of land as Earth, and it is only six months away. It is an interesting place that can be explored by telescope, by robot, and eventually by people.

  22. References Books: • Boyce, J. (2002). The Smithsonian Book of Mars. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press. • Beatty, J., Petersen, C., Chaikin, A., eds. (1999). The New Solar System, 4th Ed. Cambridge: Sky Publishing Corp. • Hartmann, W. (2003). A Traveler’s Guide to Mars. NY: Workman Publishing. Web: • ALPO Albedo Map [http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/mars/mpf/marswatch/marsnom.html] • Mars Exploration Rover [http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mer/] • Mars Express [http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/area/index.cfm?fareaid=9] • Mars Gazetteer [http://planetarynames.wr.usgs.gov/TOCmarsmain.html] • Mars Section Observing Alert and Images Page [http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/%7Erhill/alpo/marstuff/recobs.html] • Mars Society [http://www.marssociety.org] Software: • Starry Night Pro (Space.com) • The Guide (Project Pluto)

  23. Photos Courtesy: Tim Brown