Slightly baffled by aurora comments
Doesn't that require a magnetic field (which Mars doesn't have much of, if any) and a big burp from the sun, which would have been observed?
A group of amateur astronomers has discovered a tricky conundrum for the professionals, documenting atmospheric plumes - or something that looks uncannily like them - above Mars... where they should not occur. The observations, made in March 2012 and written up for Nature here (PDF), found plumes in the Red Planet's atmosphere …
The plumes could be some sort of very unusual aurora, 1,000 times brighter than anything seen on Earth, triggered by a very strong magnetic pocket in the planet’s crust that drove solar wind particles out into the atmosphere.
... MARS MAGNETIC ANOMALY #1?
Mars has almost no global magnetic field, but there are a number of localised magnetic anomalies on the planet, presumably locked in place when the core solidified. ESA spotted aurorae in 2005 over the southern hemisphere and they seem to be associated with known anomalies.
Is there a reason that this is not an impact artefact? IANAA, so the question is in complete ignorance. The Nature article (the free bit, anyway) reads:
"For particles reflecting solar radiation, clouds of CO2-ice or H2O-ice particles with an effective radius of 0.1 micrometres are favoured over dust. Alternatively, the plume could arise from auroral emission, of a brightness more than 1,000 times that of the Earth’s aurora, over a region with a strong magnetic anomaly where aurorae have previously been detected. Importantly, both explanations defy our current understanding of Mars’ upper atmosphere."
"no no no, hold it in, their satellite's coming round again, they're looking for methane! They'll see us!"
"OK. I'm not sure about this... can I let it slip now?"
"no, no, here comes another satellite. You'll have to wait another --"
-- PAAAAARRRRRRP! ---
"Sorry about that, couldn't help it. Blimey, someone open a window!"
[heavy choking coughing; sound of window opening]
[wheezy] "Dear God. What if it forms a plume? I bet they'll spot that from orbit"
So, our initial Mars landers were all solar powered, and nothing happened. Now we've sent a plutonium thermal power source over to that planet, and things are happening now.
Cherenkov glow detectors setting off an ancient weapons system?
Let's just hope the system was inactive and didn't see where the lander originated from, eh?
If you are going to insist on bunging a bloody great picture at the top of each article, at least put the bit of the picture that the article is talking about there! I spent a lot of time wondering where this plume was, and wasn't until I saw the much smaller picture at the bottom of the article that I realised that the bit I was looking at in the main picture was probably the polar (dry) ice cap.
Since when did "amateur scientist" and "alien planet doing something impossible according to current science" result in "sensible hypotheses, if unlikely in the case of the aurora, proposed and professional scientists concur and begin investigation" rather than "THE ALIENS ARE COMING FOR US!!"
It couldn't be ours.
I drove for almost two hours in the countryside after midnight to watch the launch of Nozomi, magnificent sight, never saw a really big rocket take off before.
Also scary, the sudden illumination and great noise. At such a dark time, easy to think 'this is what a small a-bomb looks and sounds like', many others felt the same for a moment.
The base (seldom used now) is in such green and beautiful countryside, the rocket soon turned into the most magnificent upside-down candle, illuminating the beautiful green coast, hills, and valleys.
I am not an expert, but I doubt there is a more beautiful launch site around.
I cried when all efforts failed (it was years late but still on track for Mars, after many adjustments), but was sent into the void because the international body said there was a chance of impact.
However, while not being A Man from Mars on the Reg., I, too, am truly a Martian.
... ancient underground facility of unknown race found on Mars. Scientists are sure the apparatus, dubbed as "some sort of core", found at the site is likely to enable FTL travel but further study is required, especially since this device seems to be mostly defunct. What boffins already got really excited is the discovery of a new material, as of now, dubbed "element zero" which seems to be a key element of the malfunctioning "core" ...
...you don't know where you are when the SciFi kicks in ;)
Don't forget the Venus/Mars conjunction this month. And, on 20 Feb (west), we get the bonus of a thin waxing crescent Moon just 6 degrees to their right.
Seems that the ISS is also appearing over the UK on the 20th too. Nice and bright from my location. A quick glance shows this to be in a similar area of the sky.
Anyone think it'd be possible to nab a wide angle or fisheye shot of all 4*? Would make for an interesting photo :)
*This seemed a reasonable article to ask such a question.
Followed by a totally loony eclipse a fortnight later (SkySafari just informed me when I went to check). If only I had a 'scope, and lived somewhere with less light pollution (it's rarely less than 60% here. Some nights I can make out the Orion Nebula - just! - but it's a rare thing).
As I recall, the Martians pit gave off the strange phosphorescent vapors while they were putting together their tripods.
Maybe the Martians are a little peeved that we put a nuclear-powered go-kart on their planet, and they are building an RV or something. Ulla!!!
"Men like Schiaparelli watched the red planet--it is odd, by-the-bye, that for countless centuries Mars has been the star of war--but failed to interpret the fluctuating appearances of the markings they mapped so well. All that time the Martians must have been getting ready.
During the opposition of 1894 a great light was seen on the illuminated part of the disk, first at the Lick Observatory, then by Perrotin of Nice, and then by other observers. English readers heard of it first in the issue of Nature dated August 2. I am inclined to think that this blaze may have been the casting of the huge gun, in the vast pit sunk into their planet, from which their shots were fired at us. Peculiar markings, as yet unexplained, were seen near the site of that outbreak during the next two oppositions.
The storm burst upon us six years ago now. As Mars approached opposition, Lavelle of Java set the wires of the astronomical exchange palpitating with the amazing intelligence of a huge outbreak of incandescent gas upon the planet. It had occurred towards midnight of the twelfth; and the spectroscope, to which he had at once resorted, indicated a mass of flaming gas, chiefly hydrogen, moving with an enormous velocity towards this earth. This jet of fire had become invisible about a quarter past twelve. He compared it to a colossal puff of flame suddenly and violently squirted out of the planet, "as flaming gases rushed out of a gun." "
Theory is that Mar's magnetic spots could react with the solar wind resulting in Mars's atmosphere being hoovered off.
Maybe we just witnessed such an event?
Here on earth, within the same timeframe, the 1946 sciene of Aeronomy and the newfound phenom. of TLE transient luminous event / Upper-atmospheric lightning merged when observations not normally made found these (previously only pressure / chemical composition readings taken - no visuals) things everywhere in Earth's upper atmosphere.
Looking at declassified thermonuclear test pix found the very same upper atmosphere phenom... specifically ELVES due to the EMP generated by the explosion... possible C-sprites directly above the fireball as the ELVES is forming (C-sprite lifetime < 1 milli-second)... anyway all of this is on Earth with the nice magnetic field.
Cosmic Rays cause atmospheric phenom. below the ISS height here on earth... the CR's are formed by both by Lightning strikes and Galactic particle bursts of all kind... this phenom. is by definition, can also produce ELVES and C-sprites...on Earth.
IMHO= C. DaFt has mentioned possible loss of Martian atmosphere due to Solar wind blowing it off via the venturi effect... No magnetic field and very little atmosphere on Mars does not mean CR's cannot form C-sprites and ELVES, perhaps it even makes the clouds more common...19th century astronomers Lowell and Pickering saw Canals on Mars using telescopes similar to the one in this article... the canals could simply be these clouds... RS.
Ref= WIKI, Noctilucent clouds...Aug 28 2006, "Mars Express mission found CO2 crystals 62 miles above the surface of the planet"... "like Noctilucent clouds on Earth, they can only be observed when the Sun is below the horizen".
Sept 19 2009, DARPA launched a Wallops Island "Charged Aerosol Release Experiment using the exhaust from a sub-orbitol sounding probe... a noctilucent cloud formed and was seen over several eastern US states for 2 weeks.
Foward to today... just about any water or non-water compound if smaller than 30 nanometers can fe formed into a cloud with the addition of enough energy, and the Solar wind is enough, solar particle storms are more than enough.
IMHO=We just have to stop being Carbon chauvanists and realize just about anything will combine if the valence bands allow it... RS
I thought it was established that Lowell had an eye defect that caused him to see the arteries of his own eye, and mistook them for canals.
Roger Bacon said that every man saw his own rainbow, and I think that in the early days of astronomy everybody saw their own Mars (and the other planets).
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