October 2, 2013
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter achieves imaging of comet ISON from Mars
The Planetary Society
Yesterday, the much-anticipated comet ISON made its closest pass by Mars. Despite the government shutdown, all NASA spacecraft are still operating normally, and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Curiosity, and Opportunity have all attempted imaging over the last several days. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera is the first to achieve a positive detection of the somewhat-fainter-than-expected comet in its photos.
October 1, 2013
As Comet ISON sweeps past Mars today, most observations will happen
Despite the U.S. government shutdown today, it appears that many planned observations of Comet ISON – as it sweeps dramatically close to the planet Mars today – will happen. NASA has a skeleton crew in support of the six crew members aboard International Space Station (ISS) in place, so presumably they will observe Comet ISON today, as previously announced. Likewise, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE instrument will be turned in Comet ISON’s direction today, according to Anjani Polit, the HiRISE Uplink Lead.
September 19, 2013
Could Upcoming Comet Flybys Damage Mars Spacecraft?
Two comets will buzz Mars over the course of the next year, prompting excitement as well as some concern that cometary particles could hit the spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet and exploring its surface.
Three operational spacecraft currently circle Mars: NASA's Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), as well as Europe’s Mars Express. NASA also has two functioning rovers, Curiosity and Opportunity, on the ground on Mars.
All of these spacecraft will have ringside seats as Comet ISON cruises by Mars this year, followed by Comet 2013 A1 (Siding Spring) in 2014.
September 4, 2013
Potential 'Comet of the Century' to Buzz Mars Soon
Earthlings may be treated to a dazzling celestial display this fall as Comet ISON makes a suicidal plunge toward the sun. But spacecraft exploring Mars is poised to get close-up views of the icy wanderer first.
"Comet ISON is paying a visit to the Red Planet," astronomer Carey Lisse of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, said in a statement. "On Oct 1st, the comet will pass within 0.07 AU from Mars, about six times closer than it will ever come to Earth."
One AU, or astronomical unit, is the distance between the Earth and sun, about 93 million miles (150 million kilometers). Comet ISON's Mars flyby, at 0.07 AU, will be about 6.5 million miles (10.4 million km).
August 22, 2013
No, Mars Won’t Be as Big as the Moon. Ever.
Every year in August, somewhere, somehow, this silly claim springs from the cold, dead ground, rising once again to shamble across the Internet. The first time it was just a mistake, but ever since then it’s been a hoax. Simple as that.
August 2, 2013
Check out the Mars rover these two girls built in their garage
Two sisters, 11 and 13, have built a Mars rover in a workshop in their family’s garage.
Camille and Genevieve Beatty have also been invited to the New York Hall of Science to show off their rover as part of a special exhibit on astronomy. The rover will roam around a mini-Martian landscape and analyze rocks with hidden heat lamps embedded inside.
April 15, 2013
Comet to Make Close Flyby of Red Planet in October 2014
New observations of comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) have allowed NASA's Near-Earth Object Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. to further refine the comet's orbit.
Based on data through April 7, 2013, the latest orbital plot places the comet's closest approach to Mars slightly closer than previous estimates, at about 68,000 miles (110,000 kilometers). At the same time, the new data set now significantly reduces the probability the comet will impact the Red Planet, from about 1 in 8,000 to about 1 in 120,000. The latest estimated time for close approach to Mars is about 11:51 a.m. PDT (18:51 UTC) on Oct. 19, 2014. At the time of closest approach, the comet will be on the sunward side of the planet.
March 28, 2013
Why a Mars Comet Impact Would be Awesome
When Jupiter’s tides ripped Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 to shreds, only for the icy chunks to succumb to the intense Jovian gravity, ultimately slamming into the gas giant’s atmosphere, mankind was treated to a rare cosmic spectacle (in human timescales at least). That was the first time in modern history that we saw a comet do battle with a planet… and lose.
But next year, astronomers think there’s a chance — albeit a small one — of a neighboring planet getting punched by an icy interplanetary interloper. However, this planet doesn’t have a generously thick atmosphere to soften the blow. Rather than causing bruises in a dense, molecular hydrogen atmosphere, this comet will pass through the atmosphere like it wasn’t even there and hit the planetary surface like a cosmic pile-driver, ripping into the crust.
What’s more, we’d have robotic eyes on the ground and in orbit should the worst happen.
February 28, 2013
Mars May Get Hit By a Comet in 2014
In case you just can’t get enough impact news, it looks like Mars may actually get hit by a comet in 2014! As it stands right now, the chance of a direct impact are small, but it’s likely Mars will get pelted by the debris associated with the comet.
I know. This is pretty amazing. Still, let me preface this with a caveat: Trying to get precise predictions of comet orbits can be difficult, and for this one we’re talking about a prediction for 20 months from now! Things may very well change, but here’s what we know so far.
The comet is called C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring), discovered on Jan. 3, 2013 by the Australian veteran comet hunter Robert McNaught. As soon as it was announced, astronomers at the Catalina Sky Survey looked at their own data and found it in observations from Dec. 8, 2012, which helped nail down the orbit. Extrapolating its orbit, they found it will make a very near pass of Mars around Oct. 19, 2014, missing the planet by the nominal distance of about 100,000 kilometers (60,000 miles).
February 15, 2013
The Fashion Line Inspired by ... Mars
Nanette Lepore, the designer best known for frilly and ruffly and otherwise dreamy outfits, debuted her Fall 2013 collection at New York Fashion Week this morning. The theme? Mars. Not space, mind you, but Mars. "Moody tones and spacey surfaces define Nanette's fall collection as she explores the contours of Mars," the designer's Tumblr explained. (Earlier: "Nanette's fall fashion show inspiration is out of this world. Honey, let's go to Mars.")
January 18, 2013
NASA Mohawk Guy to Ride With Mars Rover in Obama’s Inaugural Parade
Presidential inaugurations are big deals, and tend to attract high-profile stars like Beyoncé, Jay-Z and Bruce Springsteen who are eager to rub elbows with the newly inaugurated commander-in-chief. But next week, a very unusual celebrity will be appearing in President Obama’s parade: the NASA scientist known as “Mohawk Guy.”
Bobak Ferdowsi, who earned the love and admiration of nerds everywhere as the vertically coiffed activity lead for NASA’s mission to Mars, will be rolling with his fellow scientists in Obama’s inaugural parade on Jan. 21 and a full-scale model of the Curiosity rover that they safely landed on Mars in August of last year, as well as a life-size replica of the new Orion capsule. And in true Ferdowsi fashion, he’s also planning a new haircut for the event – but all he’s saying right now is that it will be a “surprise.”
November 6, 2012
New Google Mars Has More Coverage, More Detail and More Awesome
Google Mars has been available since 2009 as part of the free downloadable Google Earth. It allows viewers to zoom around the Red Planet in much higher resolution than the simpler browser version and will even render certain locations in 3-D. You can reach it by clicking the little orange Saturn-shaped button at the top of the screen in Google Earth. Google has now updated their Mars coverage by including large swaths from the Context Camera (CTX) on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. CTX offers great details with around 20 feet per pixel. Each of the gray bands in the picture above represents one of CTX’s imaged areas, showing the extent of the coverage.
October 27, 2012
Science olympiad winners wish to be part of Mars mission
Times of India
The three winners who took India to the stars at the 17th International Astronomy Olympiad at Gwangju, South Korea have a dream— to participaete in India's Rs 425-crore unmanned mission to Mars slated for lift off provisionally in October-November 2013.
Arindam Bhattacharya of Bangalore bagged the gold medal and Sheshansh Agarwal from Jaipur and Kumar Ayush of Jodhpur, each secured silver medals in the Olympiad held between October 16 and 24. A total of 18 teams from 17 countries participated in the contest which had three exams— theory, observation and practical.
September 27, 2012
The Mars Society Launches Major Membership Drive
The Mars Society has launched a new campaign to add 1,000 new members to the organization by December 31st. If you’re not already a member, join us today. Also ask your friends and relatives to consider becoming part of our effort to educate the public, the media and government about the importance of an expanded Mars exploration program and the need for a humans-to-Mars mission in the coming decade.
August 30, 2012
Researchers Send Mars Some Radar Love
Even though we currently have several missions exploring Mars both from orbit and on the ground, there’s no reason that robots should be having all the fun; recently a team of radio astronomers aimed the enormous 305-meter dish at Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory at Mars, creating radar maps of the Red Planet’s volcanic regions and capturing a surprising level of detail for Earth-based observations.
The team, led by John Harmon of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, bounced radar waves off Mars from Arecibo’s incredibly-sensitive dish, targeting the volcanic Tharsis, Elysium, and Amazonis regions. Depolarized radar imagery best reveals surface textures; the rougher and less uniform a surface is, the brighter it appears to radar while smooth, flat surfaces appear dark.
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