Space: News | Strange Ideas
8/1/2005 Space / Mars Mars to Appear as Large as the Moon?
A circulating email claims that Mars will appear as large as the moon in the sky. This is not true. If Mars suddenly showed up as big as the moon, I'd start packing for another planet because the Earth would have to go through some serious adjustments regarding the tides, our orbit, etc.
"It appeared as a very bright reddish "star;" very beautiful, but not as large as a full moon to the naked eye. Mars never has and never will appear as large as the moon, when seen from Earth. Mars is close every two years. It'll be close this year (2005) in November." - earthsky
photo #1, color enhancement added.
photo #2, devil enhancement added.
"Dust devils, or thermal vortices, form at the bottom of convective plumes, with rotation provided by eddy currents or ambient wind shear deflected by rocks or other surface roughness elements. Once the thermal vortices have formed and there is sufficient internal wind speed, dust is lofted into the vortices, producing a dust devil. They generally survive for several minutes and can loft hundreds of kg of material into the atmosphere. Once formed, they often produce large electrostatic discharges, which can cause damage to spacecraft instrumentation. This is of concern to both unmanned spacecraft and possible future crewed spacecraft." - pssri
2/23/2005 Space / Mars. (reuters) European Space Probe Finds Giant Frozen Sea on Mars . "A European space probe scanning the surface of Mars has discovered what scientists say appears to be a giant frozen sea near the planet's equator. ... "They look just like the rafts of fragmented sea ice that lie off the coast of Antarctica on Earth," the ESA Web Site said. ... ESA said the relative absence of craters in the plateau suggested that the sea was a modern feature dating back no more than five million years. "Two observations suggest that the ice is still there; first, the submerged craters are too shallow, indicating most of the ice is still in the craters; and second, the surface is too horizontal," it added.
"This image, taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board ESA's Mars Express spacecraft, shows what appears to be a dust-covered frozen sea near the Martian equator." full story
5/27/04 Space. (technewsworld) Life on Mars? Interesting that "the British Government and the European Space Agency have refused to reveal the detailed findings of an inquiry into the loss of Beagle, which should have landed on Mars on Christmas Day to search for signs of life."
Officially, a Martian heat wave, possibly caused by caused by dust storms, doomed the Beagle II expedition, according to the mission's chief scientist. If so, why keep the report a secret?
3/23/04 (discovery) Mars Rover Landing Site Was Ancient Sea.
Why is it interesting if Mars once had water? Some people think we humans came to Earth from Mars and that Mars is accociated with War because wars and technology eventually destroyed that planet.
What is that little blue Martian thing in the photo that accompanies the story about water? Could be a colored rock, or a reflection of some kind.
3/18/2004: UFO on Mars: (BBC) The US Spirit rover on Mars has seen a UFO streak across the Red Planet sky. "Astronomers say it could be the first meteor seen from the surface of another world, or a redundant orbiting spacecraft sent to Mars 30 years ago."
Too bad there is no video. Interesting.
3/2/2004: Water on Mars : (bloomberg) Evidence of Water on Mars found. NASA rewarded with more money for the organization, reaching $1.27 billion in 2009.Jarosite is also found in the Atacama desert here on Earth. See "Mars or Earth" photos below.
``The rocks here were once soaked in liquid water,'' Steve Squyres, the mission's principal scientist, said in elaborating on the discovery. The concentration of salts in the rock suggests the formation may have emerged in a briny sea, he said. The presence of sulfates and cracks where crystals grow in the outcropping led scientists to the conclusion that the terrain was awash in water and suitable for life, Squyres said, adding that it doesn't mean living organisms were present.
Opportunity has been surveying the outcrop during the past three weeks and found a high concentration of sulfur with its X- ray spectrometer. Its Moessbauer spectrometer also found evidence of a hydrated iron-sulfate mineral called jarosite.
The sulfur appears to have been in magnesium, iron or other sulfate salt..."
2/24/2004: Mars Balls Mystery: (space ) Scientists Baffled by Spheres on Mars. A new close-up image of the Martian surface reveals more of the tiny spherical objects that have been puzzling scientists for several days. Researchers reiterated that they don't know what process created the spheres but that they don't think biology is involved. ... Each spherule is about the size of a BB. Some are "strung like beads" along a crack in the rock. They might have formed when molten rock -- either from a volcano or a meteor impact -- froze in mid-air into glass beads. No reason to think they might be fossils or any other indication of life.
2/24/2004: Mars Rover Trouble: (eetimes ) Here is what happened to disable the Mars Rover. Nice article. Detailed and believable."The Spirit rover has a radiation-hardened R6000 CPU from Lockheed-Martin Federal Systems at the heart of the system. The processor accesses 120 Mbytes of RAM and 256 Mbytes of flash." A transmission partially failed, clean-up failed, Rover ran out of memory, rebooted, couldn't load system. "The irony of it was that the operating system was doing exactly what we'd told it to do."
Because the object is sharper than the line of the horizon in the high res photo, we might conclude that it is closer than the horizon.
How far away is the horizon in these pictures? On Mars, the horizon is closer than it is on Earth, but not by much.
If we assume that the camera is 4.9 feet above the ground on the rover, and the average radius of Mars is 3390 km ( 2,106.45 miles ) we can calculate the distance to the horizon on Mars as being about 1.977 miles. (see below).
The horizon in this picture may not be 1.977 miles away, however, because what we see on the horizon is a mountain. The highest mountain on Mars is Olympus Mons which is 16 miles high, three times higher than the tallest mountain on Earth. Assume the dot is directly above Mt. Olympus. If the high point of Mt. Olympus was on the horizon, you'd see it as far as 259.63 miles away. So, if the speck is indeed closer than the horizon it would be anywhere from 1 to 250 miles away. The farther away, the bigger it would have to be.
Size: Apparent size is written as an angle in degrees and minutes, or radians ( or sometimes "mils", 1/1000th of a radian ). For example, the angular size of the Moon varies from 29' 23.0" to 33' 31.8" during the course of a month. To get the angular size of the speck in the picture requires that we know what part of the 360 degree panorama the picture represents. I fit about 7 mars specks into the moon, so I'd say the speck has an angular size of about 4.28'.
IF the speck it is sitting on the horizon as it seems, and if the horizon is 1.977 miles away, you could use this formula: S = .0175 D x A(degrees) to determine that the object is .0175 (1.977 mi) * 4.28' = .1480773 miles or ...
781.85 feet across!
The wingspan of the largest airplane is said to be 320 feet. The good year blimp is 192 feet long. If you could squeeze 10 Mars specks into the moon, you'd have an angular size of 3 degrees, or 548 feet wide at 1.977 miles. At 3 degrees angular size 1 mile away, the object would be 277.2 feet wide. At 1 inch from the camera an object with an angular size of 3 degrees would be 1.33 millimeters, a bit more than the width of a dime. Could be dust. Could be a mothership.
How to calculate the distance to the horizon on any planet.
1. Look up the planet's radius.
2. Know your height above the surface of the planet.
3. Use this formula to solve for distance:
distance = sqrt [ 2 x radius of planet x height above surface + height about surface ^2]
The height of the Mars rover is 4.9 feet which is 1.49352 meters.
The height of Olympus Mons is 16 miles = 25,749.504 meters.
The radius of Mars in meters is 3390000.
= SQRT(h² + 2*h*r)
= SQRT ( 1.49352 m² + 2*1.49352 m* 3390000 m)
= SQRT ( 1.49352 m² + 10,126,065.6 m²)
= SQRT ( 10,126,067.1 m² )
= 3 182.14819 m
~= 1.977 miles.
A few more feet in height wouldn't change this much. A 6 foot person would be able to see about 2 miles to the horizon on Mars. Using this formula we can also determine that you could see a 16 mile high mountain on Mars from 259.63 miles away by using the mountain height as the height.
1/19/2004: Mars Pics: ( Voanews ) The European Space Agency says its Mars Express orbiter has sent back its first high-resolution pictures of the planet's surface, showing a canyon that may have been shaped by ancient water flow. This is pretty interesting. This photo is supposedly taken from space, viewing the Grand Canyon of Mars. Must be a composite? Here's a site with many pictures. For the Spirit rover, the US craft now on the surface of Mars, I don't like the bending horizon photos like this. They are distortions and they really don't show much of a view at all. There could be an ancient city right behind the rover and you'd never see it. Here is a panorama. Here it is in color.
1/19/2004: Martian Sky Blue? The panorama looks crummy. Why? They say "A higher-resolution image will be made available once it has been processed." I'd like to see what is really there. Take a look at this site and my photos below. I used Photoshop to adjust autolevels in the mars panorama, and got a much more accurate view of the blue in the Spirit rover instrument panel. Properly balanced, the Martian sky is white.
Look at the instruments and you can see that my correction on the right is the true photo. It was tinted red! My guess, unless I'm misinterpreting this somehow, is that the martian sky does not actually appear from the rover.
Furthermore, in the panoramic views (click to enlarge the two above), if you tweak them in Photoshop, you can see that the sky has no pixelation but the ground does. It looks like the sky has been filled in with white or salmon. The mountains near the edge of the sky are a different color. Take your digital camera outside and get a picture of the sky and the ground. Blow up the picture. Do you see the same pixelation on the sky as the ground?
Why would this be any different on Mars? Is the sky being fixed up by NASA? It seems so.
1/9/2004: Manned Moon Mars Missions: Bush is aiming for manned missions to the moon and mars. Is now the time to spend $1 trillion on space exploration? We think so. Humanity needs a backup plan, some type of off site storage in the event of a catastrophe. Why not Mars? On the fringe, some say we've already been to Mars, that life on earth came from Mars. Read about the "face on Mars" and the "pyramids." Some warn that nanotechnology out of control could blanket the Earth with a grey goo of self-replicating machines, causing the extinction of man. We are just learning of "a strange new type of Martian soil with unusual textures. They describe it as a material they call "duracrust" because it held together and even folded over itself when the spacecraft's cushioning airbags dragged it as they retracted." Wouldn't it be interesting if the Martian soil was made of little self replicating robots?
8/27/03: Mars Closest to Earth: 2:51 AM Pacific time this morning, Mars will be its closest to Earth in 60,000 years.