A Martian Lineup.

April is going to be an interesting month, astronomically speaking.

Mars will be in alignment with the Earth tomorrow, April 8th.  Commonly referred to as an opposition, the Sun, Earth and Mars will all be aligned, with the Earth between the Sun and Mars.

So for all you planetary imagers out there, this will be the best time to get images of our red neighbor.  Or you can watch from the comfort of you desk here.

Astronomy: Roen Kelly

A few days later, Mars and Earth will be at their closest point to one another on April 14th.  This will give you other opportunities to really see Mars.

Because of orbital differences, this type of opposition only occurs every couple of years, so you should take advantage of it.  Other good things are happening in April, an one not so good hoax.  All will be revealed as night falls.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Doomed To Fail?

The ESA and Russia’s Roscosmos space agency have joined forces to land a rover on Mars.

The ExoMars project is similar to the Mars Curiosity rover that NASA successfully landed.

ESA_NASA_D_v2_H

The ExoMars mission has several stages.  The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and a EDM stationary lander called ‘Schiaparelli’ are planned for 2016.

The TGO would deliver the ESA-built stationary lander and then proceed to map the sources of methane on Mars and other gases.

That mapping will be used to help select the landing site for the ExoMars rover to be launched on 2018 on a Russian heavy lift Proton launch vehicle.

This of course is provided that the EU and Russia are still talking to one another.  The political issues between Russia and the West don’t show any signs of lessening.  This could jeopardize the launch and several other projects.

Perhaps it is time that the international community come together an designate a neutral site for all the launching and retrieval missions for space that is away from any political upheavals.  A dream, I’m sure, but it would make me feel better about the future of space exploration.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Holey Mars, Batman!

One of Mars’ long time residents, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, took some high resolution images of a recent impact on the planet’s surface.

 

Mars, like Earth and all the other planets, receives its fair share of meteorites.  Like Earth, only a few of them survive to actually hit the ground with any remarkable results.

Recently, however, the orbiter got this image of an impact that shows a crater about 100 feet (30 meters) in diameter at the center.  The impact threw debris up to 9.3 miles (15 kilometers) from the center.

Scientists are currently studying the data for a variety of information, both about Mars and what lies beneath and the meteorite and how it could affect future missions to the red planet.

So I am sure you are wondering why the image is blue and not red like the rest of the planet.  It turns out that the terrain where the crater formed is dusty, the fresh crater appears blue in the enhanced color due to the lack of reddish dust.  At first glance I thought it might be frozen water or CO2, but its just dust.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Mars – Most Probably Habitable.

Although there has been spectacular hype regarding a billionaires manned trip to Mars, the actual science supports the fact that humans can survive on the red planet.

Curiosity has taken extensive radiation measurements of the planet and the findings look good for a manned mission.

A mission to Mars would consist of a 180-day spaceflight, a 500-day stay (so that Mars and Earth would be in the right position for the return trip) and another 180-day return flight.

The astronauts would be exposed to about 1.01 sieverts of radiation.  As you can see from the chart above, that is less than the cumulative radiation that everyone is exposed to over a year.

However, 1-sievert exceeds NASA’s current standards. But those guidelines were drawn up with missions to low-Earth orbit in mind, and adjustments for longer space mission will have to be made for future exploration.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Congratulations to the Indian Space Research Organization!

This morning, the Indian Space Research Organization successfully launched their first Mars space mission.

 

The ‘Mangalyaan’ (Mars Orbiter) was launched on an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, at Sriharikota, on the Andhra Pradesh coast, at 14.38 Indian time.

The launch is significant for more than just India’s space program.  This is another example of a ‘low cost’ space launch vehicle that can achieve great scientific results.  Although some are comparing the $73 million cost of this mission to the $2.5 Billion ‘Curiosity’ mission to Mars, it isn’t a fair comparison.

India's Mars Orbiter Mission Readied for Launch

India’s mission to Mars is to place a satellite into orbit.  That costs a lot less than landing a school bus on the red planet.  However, future missions around the world can benefit from the lessons learned from India.

As the launch success was confirmed the shout of “Buriah!” (brilliant) was heard from the control center.  I heartily agree.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

The Man In The Moon Has Nothing On Mercury.

It seems that people see images in more than just clouds.

People have imagined a man in the moon (although in Asian cultures, it is a rabbit in the Moon).  An of course the famous face on Mars which was really just a mesa in the Cydonia plains of Mars.

But Mercury seems to have the Moon and Mars beat…by a long way.

Mickey On Mercury

First, it seems that a famous mouse has taken up residence on the inner most planet.

This elevated rise on Mercury resembles a vaguely humanoid shape

And perhaps this is a paparazzi waiting for a shot of the famous mouse!  That’s right, two familiar objects on Mercury.

The act of organizing shapes into familiar objects is called Pareidolia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have one located to near where I live in the city of Eagle Rock, CA.  I drive by it quite often.  But unfortunately, pollution is taking the flight out of the eagle shaped shadows formed by the rock and it doesn’t look the same anymore.

So besides asterisms (used to identify star formations), what pareidolia images have you seen lately?

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman