Archive for the ‘Gale Crater’ Tag

Global Martian Dust Storm   12 comments

The View from Insight! 🙂

It’s pretty packed here on the Mars Insight Probe and there’s nothing much to see outside right now… so we’ve been watching live streams of the dust storm taking over Mars to pass the time…Not very impressed with the view there right now either! 😉

BoardingPass_MyNameOnInSight

The Martian dust storm that has been engulfing the red planet for the last two weeks or so has now ballooned into full-blown global dust event magnitudes (officially known as a “planet-encircling” dust event.) as of 20th June. The atmospheric dust-haze now surrounding Mars and blocking out the sunlight as it covers the sky, is in the region of six to eight times greater than its seasonally normal density. In the absence of sunlight dusty red Mars has taken on a weirdly spooky-shadowless appearance.

Mars 2Poor little “Oppy” (NASA’s Opportunity rover) has been somewhat swamped, being in the wrong place at the wrong time and the Martian dust storm has diminished the sunlight it relies on for power, to such an extent (like completely obliterated it) that “Oppy” has been compelled to postpone all of its science activities until further notice. Without enough available power from its solar panels Oppy could not even “call home,” and NASA and Oppy lost contact altogether on 12th June 2018.

Mars 3Over on a different part of the planet at the infamous Gale Crater, Curiosity (NASA’s Curiosity rover), which has been hard at work studying the Martian soil in the region, has fared considerably better and it isn’t anticipated to be unduly bothered by the dust. Despite the antics of the Martian dust storm diminishing both sunlight and visibility in Gale Crater, Curiosity, who arrived on Mars five years after the last Martian dust storm of this nature, in 2007, has the edge over “Oppy” because it sports a nuclear-powered battery running 24/7 and doesn’t therefore have power issues to sweat over, unlike “Oppy”.

MarsThe offending dusty haze floating around the Martian atmosphere, resulting from the storm which is blocking out the sunlight, is known as “tau.” This tau level is at an all-time high rising tau level 8.0 at Curiosity’s location in Gale Crater. No higher tau has ever been recorded by the mission. The area close to Oppy’s location last measured a tau of almost level 11, and at such a high dust intensity it rendered impossible the job of Oppy – the longest working Mars rover, to provide any kind of precise measurements.  

Of course we experience dust storms of our own here on Earth. They occur  in the desert regions of, for example, the Middle East, North Africa and some southwest regions of the USA . However, thanks to our thicker atmosphere and its structural design along with the stronger gravity of Earth than on Mars, the dust is compelled to settle rather than floating around the atmosphere, as on Mars.  Our planet also benefits from the presence of land-growing vegetation.

Mars 4Usually dust storms occurring on Mars are confined locally.  This current storm is distinctive in that it covers an area the equivalent of the combination of Earth’s N America and Russia.  On a positive note it is a great opportunity to gain a more advanced knowledge of the way in which these Martian storms occur, progress and ultimately influence the red planet.

In the meantime Wolfie is passing the time chomping through stray pieces of liver cake floating past, posing for selfies and eyeing up the strange Manor-like building drifting randomly past the windows…. 🙂

Sources:

www.nasa.gov

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

www.space.com

www.astronomy.com

Advertisements

“Let Us Go You and I…”   44 comments

Martian Sunset…But Not As You Know It!

  Mars_Panoramic

“Welcome to Mars! The home of beautiful red sunsets and romantic pink-hued views of Earth in an exotic Martian dusk…lazy summer evenings in Gale Crater relaxing in your rose-tinted deck chairs on the red Sands of Mars, sun hats glowing softly in cooling evening sun… watching the first glimmers of rising stars in the interstellar regions between the neighbouring gas giant Jupiter red oxide beaches of Mars… the distant howls of the Black wolves of Mars shimmering golden-red shades in the setting sun….all the ingredients of the perfect intergalactic holiday Smile

 

But wait! Action replay!! This web page no longer exists! NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has just blown the whole intergalactic holiday guide to Mars straight out of the water!

“Welcome to Mars! The home of serene blue-hued sunsets and softly blue-tinged skies!! … What! What! Stunning blue sunsets on Mars!!! the distant howls of the Black wolves of Mars shimmering cool blue shades of azure light in the setting sun on the towering foothills of Mount Sharp….all the ingredients of the perfect intergalactic holiday …” REALLY?!!

Sunset on Mars April 15 2015 Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Apparently so. Smile  Curiosity doesn’t tell ‘porkies’ and along with the images it kindly sent back to Earth it also saw fit to send a tweet too, so it must be true!

@Curiosity Rover “Let us go you and I…”

But WHY??!!! Are Curiosity and NASA finally losing it? Blue skies on Mars my Icewolfie paw!!! Hmm…well according to Mark Lemmon of Texas A&M University – the Curiosity science-team member who planned the observations, maybe not…the theory goes like this….

 

mars_sunset Credit: Google

“When the blue light scatters off the dust, it stays closer to the direction of the Sun than light of other colours does. The rest of the sky is yellow to orange, as yellow and red light scatter all over the sky instead of being absorbed or staying close to the Sun.

Just as colours are made more dramatic in sunsets on Earth, Martian sunsets make the blue near the sun’s part of the sky much more prominent, while normal daylight makes the rusty colour of the dust more prominent.”

 

So! What should have looked like this……

Black wolf of Mars A_Image: Europa's Icewolf

 

….apparently looks like this! Welll…maybe this is slightly exaggerated but hey! You get the general picture yes? ;}

Black wolf of Mars B_Image: Europa's Icewolf

The Curiosity rover gathered enough evidence from around where it landed in Gale Crater (August 2012) to give firm grounds for believing that billions of years in Mars’ past a lake and stream system existed with the potential for habitation.

Today, 3 years later in 2015, Curiosity is hard at work in the centre of Gale Crater checking out Mt. Sharp which soars 3.4 miles (5.5 km) into the alien skies of Mars. Its numerous layers of rock (Mt Sharp that is not Curiosity Winking smile ) contain the key to historic environmental situation variants that have occurred on Mars across the centuries. The purpose of Curiosity’s mission here is to discover how Mars developed from a comparatively temperate and moist world somewhere back in the dim and distant past to the cold, arid desert wilderness world it has transformed into in the present times.

Needless to say mission scientists are yet to discover what any self-respecting intergalactic tourist to the Red Planet is fully aware of, from long nights spent lounging in the BLUE Martian sunsets in their favourite deck chair – the presence of “The Black Wolves of Mars,” howling lyrically long into the alien nights! Smile

 

Black wolf of Mars C_Image: Europa's Icewolf

Sources:

Space.com

Press Trust of India/Washington – The Indian Express

2014 Winter Olympics–Coming Soon to a Crater Near You!!   46 comments

Valhalla Basin Galactic Winter Olympics 2014

 

2014 Winter Olympics – Chelyabinsk Meteor Anniversary

2014-winter-olympics-logoThe 2014 Winter Olympics, officially the XXII Olympic Winter Games (22nd Winter Olympic Games), are set to take place from 7 to 23 February 2014, in Sochi, Russia.                 clip_image001clip_image001[1]

Chelyabinsk meteor Chelyabinsk meteor 2The Chelyabinsk meteor was a Near-Earth asteroid that entered Earth’s atmosphere over Russia on 15 February 2013 exploding in an air burst about 40 km above Korkino, south of central Chelyabinsk Oblast. The explosion created a bright flash, churning out a sizeable quantity of small meteorite fragments and a formidable shock wave.

Lake Chebarkul The meteorite fragments fell in and near to Lake Chebarkul with the largest extracted from the bed of the lake on 16 October 2013. Despite its 654 kg (1,442 lbs.) mass tipping and breaking the scales it was weighed on, it proved very fragile and shattered into three distinct pieces. In the aftermath of the Chelyabinsk meteor event an unofficial market swiftly arose for meteorite fragments.

The anniversary of the Chelyabinsk meteor event will be in Sochi, Russia on 15 February 2014. A total of seven gold medals are available to be won during the anniversary day’s medal events and each will contain fragments of the Chelyabinsk meteorite.

2014 Winter Olympic Medals with meteorite fragmentsFragments of the Chelyabinsk meteorite

 

Callisto (2014 Valhalla Basin Galactic Winter Olympics)

callisto2In a very interesting to note lol that by some strange cosmic coincidence the 2014 Valhalla Basin Galactic Winter Olympics will be held on Jupiter’s extremely ancient Galilean moon Callisto, the most heavily cratered moon in the Solar System.

Callisto’s impact-battered surface features multi-ring structures, variously shaped impact craters, and chains of craters (catenae). Probably due to the icy nature of its surface Callisto lacks any large mountains. The water that has spread over the surface forming bright rays and rings around the crater is a result of the meteorite impacts puncturing holes in Callisto’s crust.

It is now believed that beneath Callisto’s crust may lie a salty, subsurface ocean of liquid water around 50–200 km deep indicated by studies of the magnetic fields around Jupiter and its moons. This leaves open the option that there could be extra-terrestrial microbial life on Callisto, though conditions are thought to be less conducive to life than on neighbouring Jovian moon Europa.

Callisto in Olympian Mythology

Mount-olympusZeus and CallistoZeus-greek-mythology-god-of-the-godsCallisto is named after one of Zeus – god of the Olympics and Supreme Ruler of Mt Olympus’s many lovers, in Greek mythology. It is said that Callisto herself was a nymph who was associated with the goddess of the hunt, Artemis.

Zeus was held in exceptionally high esteem and power by the Ancient Greeks and once every four years the Olympians held a festival including games to honour their god. Today nations still meet for the Olympic Games but not to honour Zeus, rather the ability of the athletes themselves are considered and rewarded.

 

Valhalla Basin (2014 Galactic Winter Olympics)

Valhalla Basin_Credit_WikipediaValhalla Basin_Credit NASA_JPLIn another wildly unlikely cosmic coincidence, the main venue of the Galactic Winter Olympics, Valhalla Basin, is also a crater produced by an impacting meteor. (Not the same one as Russia’s! Don’t be silly!) Furthermore it is not only the largest multi-ring impact crater on Callisto but also in the Solar System.

Discovered by the Voyager probes in 1979–80 it is located slightly to the north of the equator on Callisto’s Jupiter-facing hemisphere. Part of an extensive system in the

Valhalla region Valhalla’s bright-floored central basin stretches across a diameter spanning 360 km. It is surrounded by at least eight concentric mountainous ridges, which resemble frozen rings of ‘ghostlike ripples’ extending as far as 1,500 km from the basin’s central point.

Valhalla in Mythology

ValhallaOdinThis huge impact crater is named after Valhalla, Odin’s great hall in Norse mythology.  

                                                                         

Valhalla_was_in_Asgard_Home_of_the_fallen_VikingsValhalla, Hall of the Slain, in Norse mythology is the most beautiful of Asgard’s many great halls. It was here with Odin that the W Door Valhalla Guarded by a Wolfheroes who had been slain in battle – the Einherjar, feasted nightly on the meat of the boar Schrimnir and from the goat Heldrun, mead, whilst preparing for the up and coming battle of Ragnarok. Eight hundred warriors marching shoulder to shoulder will emerge from each one of Valhalla’s five hundred and forty doors when this time comes.

Vast and daunting Valhalla was said to have spears for rafters and golden shields providing roofing thatch, along with a fine array of breast plates, scattered around the Hall.

The western door of Valhalla is guarded by a wolf and hovering high above the door an eagle. Outside the front of the hall is Glasir, a golden tree and on the roof of Valhalla, the green leaves of another tree known as Læraðr – happily munched through by the goat Heldrun and the stag Eikþyrnir.

Asgard Crater Region– Callisto

To the west of Valhalla is another large multi-ring basin—Asgard Crater; the second largest multi-ring structure (impact crater) on Jupiter’s moon Callisto. The crater is named after Asgard, the realm of the gods in Norse mythology,

Asgard in Norse Mythology – Olympic Links

Bifrost and ValhallaThe Norse equivalent to Mount Olympus in Greek mythology, Asgard was the home and stronghold of the Norse gods. Set in the skies the only way to reach it was to cross Bifrost – the rainbow bridge.

Valhalla, the dwelling of Odin was the grandest and most magnificent of the many gold and silver halls to be found in Asgard. Norse mythology stated that Asgard would be destroyed at Ragnarok -"Doom of the powers (gods)," also known as “Gotterdammerung” which in Norse mythology means “the end of the cosmos.” A huge final battle would be fought and the world enveloped in flames; the gods defeated by giants and demons. But a number of the gods will survive, or will be reborn and out of the sea a green and fertile world will emerge.

2014 Valhalla Basin Galactic Winter Olympics!

Coming soon to a Crater Near You!!

Valhalla Basin_Credit NASA_JPL

Sources:

Viking Mythology : http://www.missgien.net

http://www.wikipedia

Related blogs on this site.

Zeus god of the Olympics and Supreme Ruler of Mt Olympus – https://europasicewolf.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/zeusgod-of-the-olympics-and-supreme-ruler-of-mt-olympus/

Russian Fireball Explodes over Chelyabinsk–And it’s all the US’s Fault!!!! https://europasicewolf.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/russian-fireball-explodes-over-chelyabinskand-its-all-the-uss-fault/

Galactic Olympics – Mars 2012 https://europasicewolf.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/2012-gale-crater-galactic-olympics/

2012 Gale Crater Galactic Olympics   59 comments

Galactic Olympics ~ Gale Crater 2012

original629904185Scoreboard_1488x1080-hpfeat

Mars Rover Curiosity – the Mars Science Laboratory has arrived safely on Mars  August 6th 2012 ~ right in the middle of Earth’s Olympics…

 

Let the Galactic Olympics Begin!!

Valles Marineris Canyon (The Mariner Valleys)

imageNamed after its discoverer the Mariner 9 space probe, Valles Marineris is definitely not for the faint-hearted! For those with nerves of steel it is perfect for **Abseiling. However! Assuming that you haven’t already fallen over one of the massive cliff edges; be warned! The colourful canyon walls are unstable and could collapse suddenly due to the onslaught of temperature changes and Martian dust storms. It will be little consolation in this case scenario to know that Valles Marineris, as the presence of sedimentary rocks shows, was once an underwater area – because it isn’t now! It’s very rocky and you will meet your doom on them! You will also meet it considerably faster than you would on Earth due to Mars’s low air density meaning that it will not slow your worrying speedy descent to a rather unpleasant doom.

Winter Olympics are best held very early in spring as Martian night lasts for thmars-snowree months and whilst Skating on the Martian Polar Icecaps may be a fantastic sport and lots of fun doing so in pitch black conditions on an alien and potentially dangerous planetscape may not be the most well-advised of activities. And unless you have a particular penchant for breaking your neck, ski-ing is probably best saved for Jupiter’s moons Europa (watch out for Ice wolves) and Callisto where frosty-white Valhalla Basin offers excellent skiing options. Alternatively you may prefer to visit Saturn’s moon Titan where high-speed Winter Olympian Ice skating and Ice Hockey events take place on the frozen methane ice sheets.

However spring does not disappoint bringing rewards of its own. With the sunlight reflecting off dazzlingly layers of frosted Carbon Dioxide the crunch through the Martian snow, will show the true depths of the very beautiful sights the Polar Icecaps of Mars have to offer.

There are of course certain other risks attached to holding the Olympics on Mars…

Discus ThrowingThere is of course only one place for this Olympic event to take place; from the very top of the huge extinct volcanic mountain Olympus Mons. The largest known volcano in the solar system it is best viewed either at sunrise or sunset on Mars, when the rippling lava flows, otherwise hidden are brought into sharp relief and are easy to see. This is in sharp contrast to your discus which will travel at rocket speeds in Mars’s low wind resistance. Your distance scores will be phenomenal but unfortunately so will everybody else’s. It is also quite possible that you will never see your discus again unless you are also an Olympic marathon sprinter.

Alternatively The Tharsis Bulge, a chain of Great Volcanoes ; Arsia, Paionis and Ascerus Montes, of which Olympus Mons, although it is set apart from, also belongs to, is a fantastic venue for the Olympian Mountain Biker and also for BMX Racing. It also provides something of a challenge for those athletes unfamiliar with Mars, who are not so heavily weighted down by gravity as on Earth, or elsewhere. It does raise the issue of exactly how high and how far you’re going to bounce when you leap-frog over those lava ridges and the bumps in the track. But if you harbour a secret, all-consuming desire to risk becoming rocket man careering into space at something resembling light-speed, this is the sport for you.

Warning! Riding a mountain bike down the sides of a volcano is not recommended for the non-Olympian mountain biker. Stick to rock climbing at the base of Olympus Mons and fossil hunting in its dried-up ocean basins. Even the smaller volcanoes all stand higher than the Hawaiian volcanoes that rise up from the Pacific Ocean floor on Earth, and far above the Tharsis Bulge itself on Mars.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Galactic Olympic Events are taking place at various different venues around the Solar System…

Sailing The Jovian moon of Callisto is a dangerously thrilling venue offering rowing races in the dark on a liquid ocean of sea salt.

You might wish to take your Olympic Torch with you to this event, (one that will stay alight on Callisto would be useful) assuming you wish to see where you’re going and keep tabs on far behind you your opponent is trailing. And if they’re not and look like they may be in danger of ‘going for gold’ you may wish to torch their boat.

titan_surfacenasaWater Polo and Canoe Sprints are highly popular Olympic events on Saturn’s moon Titan, in the methane oceans, though depending on what species you are and which world you hail from Swimming may not be a great experience for the average Olympic swimmer. It may be an interesting experience but if you’re from Earth, best not to give it a go. You won’t get the gold and you’re unlikely to live to tell the tale. Spectators should take note, unless you thrive in methane rain you would be well advised to bring an umbrella. Earth dwellers will be comfortably familiar with the rain showers routine and will carry an umbrella as a matter of course, but anyone else, take heed!

The razor-blade crags of Saturn’s moon Hyperion play host to Olympic Hurdling events whilst the Caloris Basin on Mercury, a crater with cliffs that reach up to 3km (2miles) high and stretching for hundreds of kilometres in diameter, provides great terrain for the Equestrian Cross-country events. For sight-seeing spectators the polar ice caps, a strange and bizarre sight on this baking little world are home to frozen water-ice lakes that co-exist alongside roasting rocks so hot they could easily melt the Earth metal, lead.

Venus Credit J WhatmoreThe frozen lava runs on Venus’s Maat Mons offer thrill-seeking spectators heart-stoppingly dangerous Bob sleighing races along with stunning views of Venus’s highest mountain at 4.9km (3miles) high – Maxwell Montes. And if you have survived this far you may wish to return to Gale Crater on the host world, Mars for the Olympic Show Jumping and Dressage events. Don’t get too carried away if you are taking part in the Martian Show Jumping. The low gravity on this world is something of a liability in this sport and unless you have changed your mind about not becoming the next rocket man and wish to do so still attached to your mighty Olympic steed, extra care should be taken at jump-take off. Given the excessive speed you will be propelled forward at should you have an ill-timed collision with a fence in such low Martian wind resistance, you would be well advised to avoid such an error of judgement unless you fancy plastic surgery.

Galactic Olympics Closing Ceremony at: Mount Scarp, Gale Crater!

Curiosity - Gale Crater_Mt Scarp

**(Not strictly an Olympic sport that I’m aware of, but if the Olympic Torch can abseil to London Bridge then I think that qualifies it for a mention)

Mars Rover CURIOSITY Is Coming to Town!   38 comments

 

CURIOSITY Phone Home!

clip_image002

Launched by NASA aboard an Atlas V 541 rocket on November 26 2011 the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) – Mars Rover ‘Curiosity’ due to land 05:31 GMT (06:31 BST) on clip_image003August 6, 2012, (22:31 PDT August 5,2012) in ‘Gale Crater’- in the region of Mars 5km high Mountain, Aeolis palus (Mount Sharp) having travelled 570 million km (352 million miles) to reach Mars. It’s mission, part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program; managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of California Institute of Technology is expected to last for a minimum of one Martian year (687 Earth days) and will cover an area of 5 x 20 km – larger than any other previous Mars Rover.

clip_image006 AtlasV Rocket Launching_Image Credit: NASA

                                                                                                                                      

Curiosity will have four scientific goals and objectives:

  1. Discover if the Martian environment is or was ever capable of supporting life

  2. Martian climate study

Mars Curiosity Rover_Image Credit: JPL-Caltech/NASA-APMars Curiosity_Image Credit: Reuters

       _56934780_mars_sl_image624B

Curiosity in its disposable capsule heading for Mars_Google Images

  3.  Study of the Martian geology

  4.  Planning and preparation for a future manned Mars mission

    • Including the measurement of internal spacecraft radiation exposure during flight to Mars

Curiosity’s progress can be followed HERE!>>>

Follow Curiosity Rover on Twitter!Curiosity visits Times Square USA!_Image Credit: news.discovery.com <<<And here!! (Times Square USA)