August 25, 2014
Mars will not be as big as the moon
he decade-old “Mars Spectacular” rumor is making its way back into in-boxes and Facebook feeds.
Claims that Mars will “as big as the full moon” and a “once in a lifetime experience” along with a striking image of twin moons over a Russian monastery are not true.
Though Mars is about twice the diameter of the moon, the red planet is still too far to appear that large in our skies, even at the closest points in its orbit.
This rumor is rooted in the Aug. 27, 2003, event when the orbits of Earth and Mars brought them within 34.6 million miles. It was a great time to view Mars with a moderately sized telescope. Early versions of the email rightly stated that Mars would look “as big as the full moon, when viewed through a telescope.” As the email was forwarded that last part was dropped or even replaced it with “to the naked eye.”
The rumor resurfaced each August for the next several years and then mercifully went away for a few years. It’s back this year, driven by sharing on Facebook and other social media.
August 18, 2014
Thingiverse | Mars Base Challenge Winners
We were pleased to receive a good number of #MakerBotMars challenge entries almost as soon as we announced it. But then, on the last day of the challenge, we were completely blown away as we watched the number of entries double, leaving us with loads of fascinating text to read, diagrams to analyze, and creative designs to print. Many entries went above and beyond the stated scope of the challenge, expanding into small worlds with many individual pieces. It was an embarrassment of 3D printed riches. The enthusiasm behind the contributions was palpable, and inspiring. Once we finished our test prints, we sent the results to our friends at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who used their expert knowledge and experience to help choose the winners. We’re happy to say that we fully agree with their input and we’re excited to award all of our winners with spools of MakerBot Filament and to give our first place winner a brand new MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer!
August 15, 2014
Mars Orbiters Duck for Cover
Sky & Telescope
As Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring hurtles toward Mars, NASA is taking steps to protect its Martian orbiters. The plan? Use the planet itself as a shield between the spacecraft and the comet’s potentially dangerous debris.
As part of its long-term Mars Exploration Program, NASA currently has two spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and Mars Odyssey, with Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) set to arrive in late September. Teams of scientists at the University of Maryland, the Planetary Science Institute, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) have used data from both Earth-based and space telescopes to model Siding Spring’s journey through the inner solar system, and determined that there is no risk of the comet colliding with Mars. However, at its closest approach to Mars on October 19, 2014, Siding Spring will come within 82,000 miles of the Red Planet, which is about a third of the distance from Earth to the Moon. The closest comets ever to whiz by Earth have been at least ten times more distant.
June 19, 2014
Comet’s Brush With Mars Offers Opportunity, Not Danger
University of Maryland
Comet Siding Spring will brush astonishingly close to Mars later this year – close enough to raise concerns about the safety of three spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet. But after observing Siding Spring through a satellite-mounted telescope, University of Maryland comet experts found that it poses little danger to the Mars craft. The NASA spacecraft will be able to get an unprecedented close look at the changes happening to this “fresh” comet as it nears the sun – as well as any changes its passing may trigger in the Martian atmosphere.
Fresh comets like Siding Spring, which have never before approached the sun, contain some of the most ancient material scientists can study. The UMD astronomers’ observations are part of a two-year-long research campaign to watch how the comet's activity changes during its travels.
May 14, 2014
Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and More: Don't Miss the Planet Parade in Tonight's Sky
f you go out tonight (May 14) about half an hour after sunset and have clear weather, you will see a number of bright objects in the sky. The brightest of these celestial lights are four of five planets visible to the naked eye this month, with the full moon completing the view — a sight you won't want to miss.
To begin our planet parade in May's night sky, let's look low in the northwest. There you can find the tiny speck of Mercury, never far from the sun. You may need a binocular to spot it.
April 14, 2014
Monday's Big Space Day: See a Rocket Launch, Mars and Total Lunar Eclipse Online
Monday may be a dream come true for space fans, with a rocket launch, Mars and total lunar eclipse aligned in a truly epic cosmic triple play of live webcasts online. 'Space Monday': Total lunar eclipse, rocket launch, brush with Mars Yahoo News
Mars Makes Closest Approach to Earth in 6 Years Monday Ahead of Lunar Eclipse SPACE.com
SpaceX 'Go' for Dragon Cargo Ship Launch to Space Station Monday SPACE.com
Tax Day Total Lunar Eclipse Kicks Off Blood Moon 'Tetrad' SPACE.com
SpaceX to Launch Robotic Capsule to Space Station Next Week SPACE.com
The events of Space Monday (April 14) begin in the late afternoon, when the private spaceflight company SpaceX will launch a robotic Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station. Once darkness falls, stargazers with clear skies can see Mars at its brightest (the Red Planet makes its closest approach to Earth since 2008 Monday), followed by a total eclipse of the moon in the overnight hours. Here's how to watch the events live online:
April 8, 2014
Awesome alignment: Mars, Earth, sun to line up Tuesday
Skywatchers will get a rare treat Tuesday night when Mars, Earth and the sun will be arranged in a nearly straight line.
Every two years, Mars reaches a point in its orbit called "opposition," when the planet lies directly opposite the sun in Earth's sky, according to Astronomy magazine. This means Mars rises near sunset and remains visible all night long as it moves nearly overhead across the night sky. It will be a bright burnt orange color, NASA's Mars Exploration Program reports, and almost 10 times brighter than the brightest stars in the sky.
"From our perspective on our spinning world, Mars rises in the east just as the sun sets in the west," NASA reports. "Then, after staying up in the sky the entire night, Mars sets in the west just as the sun rises in the east."
April 7, 2014
Opposition of Mars 2014: Sun, Earth and Mars to Align to Make Red Planet Brightest in Six Years
The Sun, Earth and Mars will align tomorrow night in a celestial event that only takes place once every few years.
Mars will appear at its brightest for the last six years on the night of 8 April, and stargazers should be able to see the red planet from sunset to sunrise on 9 April.
The opposition of Mars occurs when Earth comes closest to Mars for the year. However, this year's is of particular significance because Earth will pass between the Sun and Mars at a particularly close distance, making the red planet the brightest it has been since December 2007.
Earth will come 0.621 astronomical units (92.9 million kilometres, 57.7m miles) from Mars. Six and a half years ago it was 0.600AU (89.7m km) from our planet.
March 31, 2014
Powerful Jets From Mars-Bound Comet Spied by Hubble
After lurking in the outer reaches of the solar system for the past one million years, a comet is heading for a close encounter with Mars. The Hubble Space Telescope is keeping tabs on the icy interloper, seen in just-released images.
Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring), which now lies some 353 million miles (568 million kilometers) from Earth, was discovered by Australia’s Robert McNaught, a prolific comet and asteroid hunter, more than a year ago. NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, California, has been refining the comet’s exact trajectory ever since.
While researchers have ruled out a direct collision with Mars, the dusty coma of the comet (which is nearly as large as the entire Earth) will sweep directly across the red planet. The comet core, or nucleus, is expected make its closest approach to the red planet on October 19 at 2:28 p.m. ET. It will pass within 85,600 miles (137,760 kilometers) of Mars—less than half the distance from the Earth to the moon.
December 30, 2013
Mars One narrows applicant pool to 1,058 in first cut for 2025 colonization mission
Mars One, the organization attempting to send small teams of astronauts on a one-way trip to Mars, has made its first round of applicant decisions, selecting just over 1,000 people to move on to the next stage of what it hopes will be a decade-long, televised training and colonization mission. Today, 1,058 of the roughly 200,000 people who applied were told that they had made the cut. Between 2014 and 2015, all but a few dozen of those will be weeded out, leaving a final set of four-person teams that will theoretically begin heading to Mars by 2025. Before then, though, there's a long process of testing, prototyping, and fundraising ahead of the company.
December 18, 2013
An Updated Mars Exploration Family Portrait
The Planetary Society
The Mars Exploration Family Portrait shows every dedicated spacecraft mission to Mars, and now includes India’s Mars Orbiter Mission and NASA's MAVEN. The dates listed are for launch.
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).
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