Mars -The Red Planet

//Mars -The Red Planet

Mars is the fourth planet in the solar system after sun. it is also the second-smallest planet in the Solar System after Mercury. In English, Mars means Roman God of War, and it is also referred to as the “Red Planet” because of the iron oxide {which is sort of reddish in color} prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish-appearance. It is very distinctive among the astronomical bodies visible to the naked eye. Mars is proven to be a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere, having surface features which keep reminiscing both of the impact craters of the Moon and the valleys, deserts, and ice caps of the Earth.

In the coming weeks, there are two of the very few celestial events related to the relationship between mars and earth. Mars reaches opposition at 10:30 a.m. IST on Friday, July 27, when the Earth will move between Mars and the sun. The following evening, the planet will appear as a very bright, reddish (visual magnitude -2.8) star-like object shining over the southeastern horizon. Even though a modest telescope one should be able to see its 24.2 arc-minute disks (inset). Mars will be well worth observing telescopically during late July. It will achieve a maximum elevation of about 20 degrees above the southern horizon when it crosses the meridian about 10:30 a.m. local time. Observers in the farther south can see Mars higher in the sky and through less of Earth’s distorting atmosphere.

There are investigations going on right now assessing if there was a life that existed in the past or if there is a chance of any potential life of Mars, as well as the possibility of extant life. After that, there are a few astrobiology missions panned in the future, including the Mars 2020 and ExoMars rovers.  It has been proven that Liquid water cannot exist on the surface of Mars due to low atmospheric pressure. In November 2016, NASA reported about finding a large amount of underground ice in a known region “Utopia Planitia” of Mars. The volume of water detected has been estimated to be equivalent to the volume of water in Lake Superior of that on earth.

It has also been speculated and then proven that with the presence of various orbiters, landers, and rovers, it is actually possible to practice astronomy on Mars. Although Mars’s moon Phobos appears to be about one-third the angular diameter of that of the full moon on Earth and Diemos appears more or less to be star-like, looking only little bit slightly brighter than Venus does from Earth.

 

There are reports that various phenomena seen from Earth have also been observed from Mars, such as meteors and auroras. The alleged size of the moons Phobos and Deimos are sufficiently smaller than that of the Sun; thus, their partial “eclipses” of the Sun are best-considered transits. Transits of mercury and Venus have been observed from Mars. A possible transit of earth will be seen from Mars on November 10, 2084. On October 19, 2014, Comet Siding Spring passed extremely close to Mars, so close that the coma may have enveloped Mars.

 

Although Mars will reach opposition on the 27th of this July, its minimum distance from Earth will occur on Thursday, July 31, when it will be 0.385 astronomical units (35.79 million miles or 57.6 million km) from Earth. It will not be this close again until early 2035. During the evenings around opposition and closest approach, any modest telescope can be expected to show Mars’ southern polar cap and large-scale surface patterns, unless dust storms hide the surface. Owners of larger telescopes should really try for additional surface details and Mars’ two small moons Phobos and Deimos.

2018-12-01T09:28:22+00:00

Connect With Us

Astronomy Centre, E-599, 2nd Floor, Sector-7, Dwarka, New Delhi, India 110077

Phone: +91 880000-9494

Recent Posts