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 06, 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.
August 08, 2012
Ustream Mars Curiosity broadcast numbers beat primetime CNN, company says
The live stream of NASA's Curiosity rover landing garnered more interest than primetime Sunday television, Ustream says. A spokesperson told Mashable that 3.2 million people in total had checked the stream at some point during the landing, with a peak of 500,000 people watching at the same time. That's higher than the estimated viewing numbers for CNN during Sunday primetime, which came in at 426,000, or MSNBC, which had an audience of 365,000 viewers over age two. Ustream's peak audience was lower only than that of Fox, which had an audience of 803,000.
"More people tuned in to watch the NASA Mars landing coverage on Ustream than many of the top cable news networks during Sunday primetime," says Ustream's Tony Riggins.
April 24, 2012
Planetary Resources announces plan to mine asteroids.
Streaming live video by Ustream
March 23, 2012
Mysterious cloud spotted on Mars
Amateur astronomers are puzzling over a seemingly anomalous cloud that has shown up on images of Mars taken over the past few days. Is it really a cloud, or a trick of the eye? Does it really extend 150 miles up from the surface, as some of the observers suggest? And what churned up all that stuff, anyway? The amateurs and the pros will be trying to resolve those questions before the phenomenon fades away.
"It's not completely unexpected," Jonathon Hill, a member of the team at the Mars Space Flight Facility at Arizona State University, told me today. "But it's bigger than we would expect, and it's definitely something that our atmosphere guys want to take a look at."
March 04, 2012
Slooh La La: Watch Mars Up Close
The Red Planet will be the closest distance to Earth in over two years tonight in an event called The Mars Opposition. That means martian features and polar caps will be as visible as it gets.
Slooh, the robotic telescope that offers real-time web-based views of space, will be bringing you the action here beginning at 11:00 p.m. EST tonight. If you are not familiar with Slooh, the name is derived from "slew," the movement of a telescope, and "ooh," as in ooh la la.
The diagram below, courtesy of Courtney Seligman, shows the approximately 2 years and 2 month "synodic period" in which Earth passes in between Mars and the Sun.
January 12, 2012
Gerber Foundation sending 900 kids to Mars, via the Grand Rapids Public Museum
The Gerber Foundation has awarded the Grand Rapids Public Museum a $10,000 grant -- that works out to about $11 bucks a head -- to send 900 kids to Mars.
The scholarship fund will support about 900 students in fifth through eighth grade, from Lake, Newaygo and Oceana counties, to travel to Grand Rapids to see the “Facing Mars” exhibition opening in February at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.
December 28, 2011
Christmas Solar Eruption to Hit Earth and Mars
On Christmas Day, the sun decided to get into the festive mood by laying on some decorations. Lacking the tinsel and tacky glow-in-the-dark reindeer on its front lawn, our nearest star decided to create a humongous coronal mass ejection (CME) in the shape of an interplanetary bauble, firing it right at us.
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