Mars’s moons

Mars has two moons, Demios is very small – only about 12 km in diameter, and orbits in 30 hours. But since a Martian day is 24 hours, 39 minutes long, Demios isn’t much above synchronous orbit, and it takes 2.7 days to rise in the east and set in the west. From the equator of Mars, it looks about as big as the planet Venus does from Earth. Phobos…

August 16, 2013

Zoom in on Mars

  Click on the picture to go to the NASA website, where you can explore a million-pixel photo of Mars. You can zoom in anywhere!

June 21, 2013

Curiosity is sitting on a stream bed

Rounded gravel fragments, or clasts, up to a couple inches (few centimetres), on dry stream beds on Mars and Earth Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS and PSI
September 30, 2012

  The Mars rover Curiosity is driving over a dried-up stream bed. Looking at the gravel under Curiosity, NASA scientists say the water must have flowed about 1 m/s and been somewhere between 10 cm and a metre deep. That’s a lot of water, although it was probably billions of years ago.


Complete Success!

Curiosity is safely down on the surface of Mars, and sending NASA low resolution images. Everything worked perfectly. She can now get on with finding out if Mars was ever friendly for life. The nerds just took gold in the 560 billion metres. La curiosidad esta viva sobre la superficie de Marte, y envíando imágenes de baja resolución a la NASA. Todo funcionó a la perfección. Ahora puede seguir adelante…

August 6, 2012

Curiosity Landing on Mars

  Curiosity, also known as the Mars Science Laboratory, will touch down on Mars at 6:31 (BST or La Palma local time). I hope it won’t crash into Mars hard enough to create a new impact crater. Mars is currently on the opposite side of the sun to Earth, and radio signals from Mars take 14 minutes to reach Earth. That’s far too long for the engineers at NASA to…

August 4, 2012

Diamond Ice on Mars

Diamond dust in Antarctica. Credit: Wikipedia commons
June 24, 2012

  Sometimes it snows on Mars.  In autumn, the snow is probably water ice, and in the depths of winter, when temperatures drop to -125 º C, it’s carbon dioxide snow. The atmosphere is thin and dry, and the temperature drops very fast after sunset, so the snow flakes are tiny, about 7 microns in diameter, like a human red blood cell.  In fact, it’s a lot like the diamond ice…