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Close Encounters Of The Mars Kind

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the bask-in-its-warlike-glow dept.

Space 153

Lab_rat0 writes "Never again in our lifetimes will the Red Planet be so spectacular! This month and next, Earth is catching up with Mars, an encounter that will culminate in the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history. This article at EliteGeek has more details. According to Agg over at OCAU, this is probably the reason for all the Mars probes launched over the last few months."

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153 comments

Never again in our lifetimes? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6601585)

Speak for yourself. I plan to live to at least 150,000 years of age. I'm sure I'll see better.

Re:Never again in our lifetimes? (4, Funny)

error502 (694533) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601608)

Well, since time doesn't exist [slashdot.org] , you have a shot.

Re:Never again in our lifetimes? (1)

fehlschlag (543974) | more than 10 years ago | (#6602065)

Article: ...Earth is catching up with Mars...
Post: Well, since time doesn't exist [slashdot.org] , you have a shot.


Lol, but doesn't the runner/turtle paradox claim that the Earth will never catch up with Mars?

Mars will come within 2,400 miles (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6602276)

of the 2003 distance in 2208, a 0.007% difference - and came within 12,000 miles in 1924, which is 0.03%, according to The Opposition Cycle Of Mars [tnni.net] , by Jeffrey Beish.

Re:Never again in our lifetimes? (3, Funny)

G-funk (22712) | more than 10 years ago | (#6602924)

Not to mention if those of us spent less time on slashdot and more time outside, you would simply have noticed the (comparitively) massive red ball in the sky :)

Of course I only noticed coz my little brother called me out, but hey - it's cold out!

My first real troll. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6601589)

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You are not logged in. You can log in now using the Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account. Problems regarding accounts or comment posting should be sent to CowboyNeal the convenient form below, or Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account. Problems regarding accounts or comment posting should be sent to CowboyNeal

Hahahahahahaha (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6601595)

YOU FAILED IT !

I fail badly. :-( (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6601604)

I don't know how to troll right. I'm such a failure. :-(.

-PENIS--PENIS--PENIS--PENIS-
P_______________________8..P
#~..E
N__Lord's penis_______8.',-N
I_____________________#',-.I
Jesus wants your__8',-..S
anus, and he_____#~',-..-
wants it NOW! ___8_',-..P
##',-',-E
An original_____8',-',";N
TrollKore______##',-',";I
work of art.___8',-',";.S
; -__By Dessimat0r ##',-',";.-
P________________8',-',";,.P
#'',-',";,.E
8(',-' ,";,..N
#(',-',";,.,.I
#8#8_',-',";,.,.S
#',-.8 ',-',";,.,.-
8~',-..#',-',";,..P
#'',-',";8_',-' ,";.E
8=',-',";.+#+',-',";.N
#=',-',";,._8',-'," ;,.I
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8(',-',CMDR,.(8',- ',";s#-
8(',-',.TACO.";#',-',-s8_P
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#.##',- ,',',,";~8,8#_____I
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# .,..-',-',";.'=8#_______-
.8+_',-',";,.'88_______ __P
888',-',";~8___________E
8#888#88___________ _N
S____.oO TrollKore Oo._____S
-_At the head of the game._-
P__________________________P
E___irc.freedomirc.net_____E
#trollkore_________N
S__________________________S
-PENIS--PENIS--PENIS--PENIS-

Get the code to the TrollKore ASCII penis here... [slashdot.org]

All you cock-loving fuckers out there, here is a special treat for you bastards, take a look at this knob. NOW SUCK IT, MOTHERFUCKERS!

You are not logged in. You can log in now using the Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account. Problems regarding accounts or comment posting should be sent to CowboyNeal the convenient form below, or Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account. Problems regarding accounts or comment posting should be sent to CowboyNeal

GNAA! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6601590)

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Curabitur id augue sed nulla accumsan sollicitudin. Nam ornare justo vitae ante. Donec ligula. Donec felis augue, lacinia ut, vestibulum sit amet, ultricies vestibulum, dolor. Nunc nec nisl. Phasellus blandit tempor augue. Donec arcu orci, adipiscing ac, interdum a, tempus nec, enim. Phasellus placerat iaculis orci. Cras sit amet quam. Sed enim quam, porta quis, aliquet quis, hendrerit ut, sem. Etiam felis tellus, suscipit et, consequat quis, pharetra sit amet, nisl. Aenean arcu massa, lacinia in, dictum eu, pulvinar ac, orci. Mauris at diam tempor ante ullamcorper molestie. Ut dapibus eleifend ipsum. Nam dignissim. Donec eContrary to popular belief, Lipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of "de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum" (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lipsum, "Lorem ipsum dolor sit get libero. Nullam tincidunt mauris et nibh. Phasellus tempus fermentum diam. Morbi at mauris dapibus lacus malesuada molestie. Morbi vehicula, elit quis posuere mattis, arcu tellus ultrices ante, sit amet rhoncus dolor neque eget lacus. Integer in odio. Ut malesuada mi et nibh. Vestibulum wisi justo, vestibulum a, pretium sit amet, euismod a, augue. Aliquam vitae nisl eu metus dignissim eleifend. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. PrDonec eget libero. Nullam tincidunt mauris et nibh. Phasellus tempus fermentum diam. Morbi at mauris dapibus lacus malesuada molestie. Morbi vehicula, elit quis posuere mattis, arcu tellus ultrices ante, sit amet rhoncus dolor neque eget lacus. Integer in odio. Ut malesuada mi et nibh. Vestibulum wisi justo, vestibulum a, pretium sit amet, euismod a, augue. Aliquam vitae nisl eu metus dignissim eleifend. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Praesent faucibus tempor tortor. Suspendisse dignissim eleifend dui. Duis adipiscing tellus at nulla. Vivamus mollis, dolor sit amet ornare egestas, risus augue mollis lorem, eget tempus augue augue in libero. Sed tincidunt vestibulum ligula. Vestibulum ut libero eu erat sagittis nonummy. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Sed ut libero. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Cras convallis urna sed enim. Nullam tortor ante, consectetuer eget, nonummy eu, congue a, metus. Mauris ante. Nulla sed sapien et wisi condimentum feugiat. Curabitur id augue sed nulla accumsan sollicitudin. Nam ornare justo vitae ante. Donec ligula. Donec felis augue, lacinia ut, vestibulum sit amet, ultricies vestibulum, dolor. Nunc nec nisl. Phasellus blandit tempor augue. Donec arcu orci, adipiscing ac, interdum a, tempus nec, enim. Phasellus placerat iaculis orci. Cras sit amet quam. Sed enim quam, porta quis, aliquet quis, hendrerit ut, sem. Etiam felis tellus, suscipit et, consequat quis, pharetra sit amet, nisl. Aenean arcu massa, lacinia in, dictum eu, pulvinar ac, orci. Mauris at diam tempor ante ullamcorper molestie. Ut dapibus eleifend ipsum. Nam dignissim. onec eget libero. Nullam tincidunt mauris et nibh. Phasellus tempus fermentum diam. Morbi at mauris dapibus lacus malesuada molestie. Morbi vehicula, elit quis posuere mattis, arcu tellus ultrices ante, sit amet rhoncus dolor neque eget lacus. Integer in odio. Ut malesuada mi et nibh. Vestibulum wisi justo, vestibulum a, pretium sit amet, euismod a, augue. Aliquam vitae nisl eu metus dignissim eleifend. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Praesent faucibus tempor tortor. Suspendisse dignissim eleifend dui. Duis adipiscing tellus at nulla. Vivamus mollis, dolor sit amet ornare egestas, risus augue mollis lorem, eget tempus augue augue in libero. Sed tincidunt vestibulum ligula. Vestibulum ut libero eu erat sagittis nonummy. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Sed ut libero. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Cras convallis urna sed enim. Nullam tortor ante, consectetuer eget, nonummy eu, congue a, metus. Mauris ante. Nulla sed sapien et wisi condimentum feugiat. Curabitur id augue sed nulla accumsan sollicitudin. Nam ornare justo vitae ante. Donec ligula. Donec felis augue, lacinia ut, vestibulum sit amet, ultricies vestibulum, dolor. Nunc nec nisl. Phasellus blandit tempor augue. Donec arcu orci, adipiscing ac, interdum a, tempus nec, enim. Phasellus placerat iaculis orci. Cras sit amet quam. Sed enim quam, porta quis, aliquet quis, hendrerit ut, sem. Etiam felis tellus, suscipit et, consequat quis, pharetra sit amet, nisl. Aenean arcu massa, lacinia in, dictum eu, pulvinar ac, orci. Mauris at diam tempor ante ullamcorper molestie. Ut dapibus eleifend ipsum. Nam dignissim.

Bad Joke Alert (3, Funny)

jeffkjo1 (663413) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601591)

According to Agg over at OCAU, this is probably the reason for all the Mars probes launched over the last few months."

But when are they going to probe Uranus?

Re:Bad Joke Alert (0)

AndyFewt (694753) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601605)

I don't know how electronics would respond to having copious amounts of KY on them ;P

Re:Bad Joke Alert (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6601634)

Go ahead [goatse.cx] .

Re:Bad Joke Alert (1)

AndyFewt (694753) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601682)

How did I know that was coming.. I *must* be psychic

Re:Bad Joke Alert (4, Funny)

Izago909 (637084) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601788)

But when are they going to probe Uranus?

Scientists renamed that planet in the year 2354 to end that old joke once and for all. It's now known as Urectum.

"Afer all, who needs courage when you have a gun?"
-Prof Hubert Farnsworth

Shell smashed, juices flowing (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6601592)

wings twitch, legs are going,
don't get sentimental, it always ends up drivel.

virtual mars (-1, Flamebait)

Nishal (636649) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601593)

I am an uber geek in a windowless room..maybe we can a virtual Mars so i and fellow geeks can experience this via the net.....

Obligatory Zubrin post... (5, Interesting)

bc90021 (43730) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601596)

Since Mars is so close, it's a shame that more people haven't read "The Case for Mars" (see here [nw.net] , and no, I am not affiliated in any way), as now would be a very good time to put some of [nw.net] the [nw.net] principles [nw.net] into practise and land someone on Mars!

Re:Obligatory Zubrin post... (5, Funny)

EverDense (575518) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601751)

now would be a very good time to put some of the principlesinto practise and land someone on Mars!

Preferably someone that I don't like.
Preferably without a space suit.

Re:Obligatory Zubrin post... (1)

crmartin (98227) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601819)

I've got a little list.

They never would be missed.

... they never would be missed.

Mars Society Interview (2, Informative)

SunPin (596554) | more than 10 years ago | (#6602018)

In December 2001, I interviewed the Medical Director of the Mars Society for Cyberista. The story is here [cyberista.com] . Everybody in that organization is superb in their field. Dr. Czarnik was an excellent interview subject.

Followup (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6601607)

There is an interesting follow-up thread in the Smoke Tech Center [216.218.248.136] 's message boards. Check it out.

Damn it I won't be able to sleep at night now... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6601610)

You can see those scary faces all over the surface of Mars. They are watching me .... nooooo....

Mirror (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6601614)

In case the site (or routes to the site) get slashdotted, here [martin-studio.com] is a mirror to the link.

Re:Mirror (1)

Nintendork (411169) | more than 10 years ago | (#6603332)

Looks more like a link to the mirror...

-Lucas

Does this have a practical purpose? (-1, Redundant)

James A. A. Joyce (681634) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601615)

Is there going to be a Mars probe launched on this date of closest approach, or will we be able to exploit it for sending a person to Mars? Or is this just, unfortunately, an astronomical curiosity which NASA doesn't have the budget to take advantage of at the moment?

Re:Does this have a practical purpose? (3, Insightful)

Ieshan (409693) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601637)

If you read the fucking story, you'd note that the *poster* says he thinks that Nasa has been launching probes (they've launched two to Mars in recent months, rememeber?) to take advantage of this phenomenon. Launching them on "the day" doesn't really accomplish anything, because by the time your probe is launched, Mars is already heading farther away (remember, probes take longer than a day to get to Mars?).

Re:Does this have a practical purpose? (4, Insightful)

Osty (16825) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601651)

Is there going to be a Mars probe launched on this date of closest approach

Launching a mission on the date of closest approach would be poor timing. To take advantage of this, missions would need to be launched prior to that date (how long before can be figured out, but I don't know the data to do so). If you launch on the day when Mars and Earth are closest, you'll immediately begin chasing Mars and the trip will not be optimal. If instead you launch before hand, you're travelling towards mars while it's travelling towards you. The rate of movement may be so minimal that it won't make a difference, but I don't know.

Re:Does this have a practical purpose? (3, Informative)

error502 (694533) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601669)

No, it would have had to have been launched before the date of closest approach. If you launched a probe, etc. at Mars (coming towards you), they'll meet up much sooner than if you launch on the date when Earth and Mars are actually nearest (since they're traveling towards each other). If you actually ended up launching on the day that Earth and Mars are closest, then Mars would be moving *away* from the probe shortly after launch, thus making it harder to get to.

Re:Does this have a practical purpose? (1)

AndyFewt (694753) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601690)

I think there was a linked slashdot article which had a purdy flash animation to explain all the physics involved in sending stuff to mars. Although I don't think the recently launched probes will have arrived there just yet.. I thought it was 9 months or something around that.

Text (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6601624)

Never again in our lifetimes will the Red Planet be so spectacular!
This month and next, Earth is catching up with Mars, an encounter that
will culminate in the closest approach between the two planets in
recorded history.

The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287.

Due to the way Jupiter's gravity tugs on Mars and perturbs its
orbit, astronomers can only be certain that Mars has not come this close to
Earth in the last 5,000 years but it may be as long as 60,000 years.
The encounter will culminate on August 27th when Mars comes to within 34,649,589
miles and will be (next to the moon) the brightest object in the night sky.
It will attain a magnitude of -2.9 and will appear 25.11 arc seconds wide.
At a modest 75-power magnification, Mars will look as large as the full moon to
the naked eye.

Mars will be easy to spot. At the beginning of August, Mars will rise in the east at 10 p.m. and reach its azimuth at about 3 a.m.
But by the end of August when the two planets are closest,
Mars will rise at nightfall and reach its highest point in the sky at 12:30 a.m.
That's pretty convenient when it comes to seeing something that no human has
seen in recorded history.

So, mark your calendar at the beginning of August to see Mars grow
progressively brighter and brighter throughout the month.

Re:Text (5, Informative)

Spock the Baptist (455355) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601953)

"It will attain a magnitude of -2.9 and will appear 25.11 arc seconds wide."

This from Sky & Telescope: 'Mars becomes almost this large every 15 or 17 years -- whenever it passes closest to Earth (near opposition) within a few weeks of the date it is also nearest the Sun (perihelion). For example, in August 1971 the disk became as large as 24.9", and in September 1988 it reached 23.8". Less-ideal views come at intervals of about 2 years 2 months, as in May 1999 when it reached 16.2", and in June 2001 when it attained 20.8". Putting August 2003 in perspective, this is one of five chances (at most) in your entire lifetime that you'll see Mars so clearly.'

So this month Mars will appear some 0.21 arc-seconds larger than it did in August 1971. This is really not enough for the human eye to make a distinction. That said, you really ought to take advantage of this opposition. I know that I will.

Clear Skies
STB

Close approach (1)

Latent Heat (558884) | more than 10 years ago | (#6602599)

Trouble is for us Northern Hemisphere dwellers that the close Mars opposition happens 1) with Mars in a low-declination constellation like Scorpius or Sagitarius, putting it down on the horizon and down in the murk, and 2) at the peak of mosquito season. How are you folks in Oz looking forward to Mars viewing?

Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6603190)

But it blocks my view of Venus!

Marvin

A little... too close (2, Funny)

tbase (666607) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601628)

Over 570 items on eBay alone [ebay.com] , and now this! Keep your eyes out for broom-adorned helmets!

Re:A little... too close (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6602745)

I am going to blow up Earth. It's blocking my view of Venus!

Probably? (-1, Troll)

groove10 (266295) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601631)

Wow, what a great leap of logic...

I mean it's pretty inconcievable that scientists would choose the most opportune time in terms of energy to launch their probes, right?

Did they also guess that the reason the shuttle hasn't flown as of late was because of a tragic accident that they still have not determined the exact cause of?

What will they come up with next?

Re:Probably? -MOD PARENT UP- (0, Offtopic)

DasBub (139460) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601701)

In other news, it has been suggested that eating fast food will make you gain weight and that watching Real TV will make you sterile.

Re:Probably? (4, Insightful)

MarcQuadra (129430) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601740)

But it's NOT the best time to send something to Mars. It would have been best to launch something about a year and a half ago, when mars and earth were moving towards each other, and have the probe REACH Mars when it starts getting farther away.

Re:Probably? (2, Informative)

sniggly (216454) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601789)

They launched em a couple of months ago so that the energy efficiency of the probes were highest so it was least expensive.

2xUS, 1 European & 1 Japanese probe.

Re:Probably? (3, Informative)

twostar (675002) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601840)

Actually the Japanese probe was launched over a year ago (can't remember the exact launch date) and suffered a engine failure. They did some orbit changes and had it swing by Earth agian before heading to Mars a second time. This time how ever it's on a free trajectory and shouldn't need much engine use. They are running extremely low on fuel though and some of the parts have begun to fail. They're not completely sure the probe will make it. But it does result in a swarm of probes heading towards Mars and hopefully will result in alot of data coming back from various parts of the planet and from orbit all at the same time which will give scientist a better overal view of the planet.

Re:Probably? (1)

Bob Vila's Hammer (614758) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601813)

The argument in this thread is strictly referencing the probability of Space Organizations launching probes and research vessels to take advantage of a Mars proximity - which is occuring now.

Thats why the probes are already on their way and will arrive within 4 months.

That there is a probability is really quite besides the point, it is a certainty that we are talking about. Spirit and Opportunity, Beagle 2, and Nozomi were all planned and launched specifically for this beautiful exploration opportunity.

A 350 million buck Mars research grant coming (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6601632)

The Arizona Republic was running a story yesterday ( click here [google.com] ) on scientists' hopes about getting 350 million bucks in grants for research on Mars. Interesting to see new money from NASA since its budget has been cut to pieces by the current Administration.

Perhaps if there are WMD on mars..... (1, Funny)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 10 years ago | (#6602831)

I say, the terrorists have hidden WMD on mars, and are pointing the LASER to earth. Bush better give nasa $500 billion to make a space battleship fleet and colonize, i mean liberate Mars!!!!

Re:Perhaps if there are WMD on mars..... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6603203)

Saddam has stolen the space modulator......

Why go to Mars? (5, Funny)

Hackie_Chan (678203) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601635)

Why go to Mars when you've got Rekall?

>... and about those lobotomies, statistics show that it's safer to use Rekall than to travel to the red planet itself.

I'm delightfully interested in that Agent-package... Hmm...

Place that bet (2, Funny)

AndyFewt (694753) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601644)

I bet that someone from that zetatalk or whatever it was will claim this is the famed Planet-X which was meant to destroy life as we know it back in may/june.

"Quick, get to your safe locations again, we *really* mean it this time, honest!"

Anyway, its always nice to see there is (I use this term lightly) "life" outside of this small planet. Now 34,649,589 miles doesnt seem to far. I'll definately have to have a look.

Re:Place that bet (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6601902)

what the hell are you babbling about? this article has exactly jack shit nada to do with life on Mars. Did you skim for keywords or something? Fidiot.

Followup (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6601661)

There is an interesting follow-up thread in the Hick Tech Center [hick.org] 's message boards. Check it out.

The end is near! (4, Funny)

uncoveror (570620) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601671)

Get your affairs in order, the end is near! This would be the perfect time for the Zhti Ti Kofft, [uncoveror.com] as the Martians call themselves, to invade and conquer.

Re:The end is near! (1)

Cpt_Kirks (37296) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601698)

And remember, if your aluminum foil hat is not Hersheys Kiss like (ala "Signs") it doesn't work...

Not if I can help it. (1)

empesey (207806) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601956)

I'm having t-shirts made with the phrase Klaatu Baraada Nictu on the front and

1) Near Earth collision
2) Invasion by martians
3) T-Shirts in designer colors
4) ???
5) Profit

on the back.

More details (5, Informative)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601678)

For those looking for more formal/detailed articles:

Space.com [space.com]
abc.net.au [abc.net.au]
Telescopes-Astronomy.com [telescopes...omy.com.au] - lots of details about suitable telescopes etc.

As an aside, about an earlier event fromThe Universe Today [universetoday.com] :
A rare astronomical event will occur in May 1999- Mars will be the closest it ever gets, only 52.8 million miles. In addition, the Red Planet is in opposition, which means its face is completely lit up by the Sun. Amateur astronomers will be able to see normally obscure features like the polar caps and canyons.

For the best amateur (MARS) pictures, go here. (4, Interesting)

deathcow (455995) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601909)

These guys are using some of the best cameras and telescopes that amateurs can buy. (Or at least, hope to buy, since there are multi-year long waiting lists.)

MARS 2003 Pictures [photomeeting.de]

Every year, amateurs and their techniques are improving. This team of Germans, with their Astro-Physics [astro-physics.com] 10" Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope [astro-physics.com] are on the cutting edge of amateur astrophography.

Maps of Mars, including dust storm (5, Informative)

Whitecloud (649593) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601712)

For global views of Mars check here [nasa.gov] , however at this time of year (August) Mars is enveloped in planet wide dust storms, so the view is going to be obfuscated by all that red grit...if you want to check out before and during storm pics then click here [nasa.gov] .

many more pics available from the Mars Global Surveyor: Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC)here [nasa.gov] .

Re:Maps of Mars, including dust storm (4, Funny)

twostar (675002) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601845)

How can a planet be enveloped in more the one Planet Wide storm? :D

Re:Maps of Mars, including dust storm (1)

jesser (77961) | more than 10 years ago | (#6602354)

What do you mean by "time of year (August)"? I doubt Mars weather follows an Earty-yearly pattern...

uh-oh (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6601719)

That's no mars, it's a space station!

Re:uh-oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6601808)

fucking crap, we be screwed ...

Followup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6601721)

There is an interesting follow-up thread in the Hick Tech Center [hick.org] 's message boards. Check it out

I'm dubious of the claim! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6601729)

Right, there's a lot here that makes me dubious of the claim. First off, I should point out that I've worked on the capture problem for Mars's moons. (The results haven't been published, although the did land a grant.) First off, why is synchronous orbit a hint as to their breakup? There's no reason that synchronous orbit is preferred, either as a capture point or as a point for breakup. In fact, synchronous orbit is an unstable equilibrium: a slight perturbation drives everything away from it. (Which is why Phobos is heading inward and Deimos outward.) Also, he needs to explain why a larger moon orbited there happily (without perturbation!) for billions of years before breaking apart. In the very least, we're witnessing Mars's moons at a very unusal time, and such coincidence make me (and most astronomers) nervous. Also, Phobos has drifted inward since any such breakup. Why isn't it breaking up more? Unless there's some internal strength (in which case, why did it break up then?), it should. To be honest, I sort of question his background for this. Besides the fact that he's not an astronomer, he wants to put a base on Deimos? The surface gravity on those moons is virtually non-existant. (For Deimos, being smaller, it's under 1 cm/sec^2, I believe.) No one could even walk around properly. (Although, if he hollowed it out and made a colony ship out of it, we could launch it to Tau Ceti... But it might encounter some hostile, three-eyed aliens.*) I'd be happy to hear him explain his idea to a group of dynamicists. Hell, I'll volunteer. But I'm very skeptical for now. (* Kudos to anyone who catches *that* reference.)

Don't get TOO excited... (5, Interesting)

JayBlalock (635935) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601730)

Here's [snopes.com] the Snopes entry on it. Essentially, while it's technically true that this is the closest pass in 60,000 years or so, to most observers there won't be any appreciable difference between this pass and the semi-close passes it makes every 15 years or so. The interest lies mainly in how this makes it more easy to launch probes. (and note the similarity in wording between the Snopes version and the post. Hmmm...)

Head to the hills, mama! (3, Funny)

wiggys (621350) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601733)

I don't know about you but this creeps me right out! I've just been reading this book [alcyone.com] (guy at work tells me its a transcript of a radio news bulletin) and I'm kinda scared right now.

Got the wife and kids in a truck, and we're gonna head to the hills for a while. Got meself a shotgun... just in case those Martians come for ME!

what? (0)

libnatel (660544) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601735)

this means itll be easier for the martians to invade us.

oh noooooo............

THE KING IS ALIVE; LONG LIVE THE KING (-1)

(TK8)Dessimat0r (670558) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601737)

-PENIS--PENIS--PENIS--PENIS-
P_______________________8..P
E__Bow down to the_____#~..E
N__Lord's penis_______8.',-N
I_____________________#',-.I
S__Jesus wants your__8',-..S
-__anus, and he_____#~',-..-
P__wants it NOW! ___8_',-..P
E__________________##',-',-E
N__An original_____8',-',";N
I__TrollKore______##',-',";I
S__work of art.___8',-',";.S
-__By Dessimat0r ##',-',";.-
P________________8',-',";,.P
E_______________#'',-',";,.E
N______________8(',-',";,..N
I_____________#(',-',";,.,.I
S__________#8#8_',-',";,.,.S
-_________#',-.8',-',";,.,.-
P________8~',-..#',-',";,..P
E_______#'',-',";8_',-',";.E
N_____8=',-',";.+#+',-',";.N
I____#=',-',";,._8',-',";,.I
S___#=',-',";,..(#',-',";.8S
-__8(',-',CMDR,.(8',-',";s#-
P_8(',-',.TACO.";#',-',-s8_P
E_#z',-','WOZ',";8',-..s#__E
N_8_.,#',"ERE',";~#,..88___N
I_#.##',-,',',,";~8,8#_____I
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-_#.,..-',-',";.'=8#_______-
P_.8+_',-',";,.'88_________P
E___888',-',";~8___________E
N______8#888#88____________N
I__________________________I
S____.oO TrollKore Oo._____S
-_At the head of the game._-
P__________________________P
E___irc.freedomirc.net_____E
N_______#trollkore_________N
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S__________________________S
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Get the code to the TrollKore ASCII penis here... [slashdot.org]

All you cock-loving fuckers out there, here is a special treat for you bastards, take a look at this knob. NOW SUCK IT, MOTHERFUCKERS!

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You can simulate this event in Celestia (5, Informative)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601744)

Users of Celestia [shatters.net] (the stunning open-source galaxy simulator) can verify this and a whole lot of other space events as Mars is, at August 27, 0.373 AU from Earth. When I'm typing this, Mars seems to be 0.410 AU from Earth.

1 AU = 149,597,870.691 km

0.373 AU = 55800005 km
0.410 AU = 61335126 km

The values seem to be slightly off (by around 1%) when compared to the article's shortest distance, from the approximated planetary orbits.

Re:You can simulate this event in Celestia (4, Informative)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601792)

You can also use the program kstars, part of the KDE suite. I've only been playing with it for the past couple days but am impressed. It allows you to retrieve actual images from an observatory for any object in its database, has the obligatory constellation maps, extended info via the web for the major bodies, etc.. It doesn't allow tours through the Solar System as does Celestia, but is useful for any planetbound stargazers out there.

BTW, the RH8.0 sources build fine on RH9.

Re:You can simulate this event in Celestia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6602187)

[/usr/ports/astro/celestia]# make install
===> celestia-1.2.4 is marked as broken: Does not compile (bad C++ code).

Re:You can simulate this event in Celestia (1)

Gruuue (171191) | more than 10 years ago | (#6602508)

That's a very old version of Celestia, built in the days when g++ was much less picky about certain C++ constructs. Go get version 1.3.0 from here [shatters.net] .

--Chris

I've seen it (5, Informative)

ralphclark (11346) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601757)

It's fairly big already - about 20 arcseconds I should think - and I've taken a look a few times already the past few days (in my 10" F5 reflector, 4mm ultrawide plossl eyepiece, magnification about 300x). Why look now before opposition? Because it has already passed it's maximum declination in mid-to-late July, even then at about only 25 degrees above the horison where I am, and is now getting lower each night. Even at maximum elevation it was so low that atmospheric distortion mucks up the image quite badly.

In fact, although this is supposed to be the closest opposition for maybe the past 60,000 years, the low elevation means it's not really such a great observation opportunity for astronomers in the northern hemisphere. I was just about able to make out the southern polar cap and some blurred greyish surface features in the southern hemisphere.

If you live further South though, there should be some really spectacular views with Mars almost overhead. And it's so bright that you don't need a large telescope - just a good one. And an equatorial mount is a must, because the damn thing moves so fast.

for those of us without telescopes or probes... (5, Informative)

selderrr (523988) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601763)

there's always the astronomy pic of the day [nasa.gov]

And for those of us with OSX, there's a macosxhints article [macosxhints.com] that helps you rotate your desktop pic with the APotD

Re:for those of us without telescopes or probes... (4, Interesting)

mahart (177794) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601994)

Speaking of APotD here's a good composite image of Mars [nasa.gov]

I usually only like the high-res pics that have been through a million filters to look sexy...
APotD often has lots of grainy bland pics that are scientifically useful but not exactly great desktop material

DON'T CLICK!! GOATSE.CX LINK! (-1, Troll)

cpeterso (19082) | more than 10 years ago | (#6602189)


whatever you do, don't click on the parent post's so-called "ASS-tronomy pic of the day." It is just a goatse.cx redirect!

Actually funny! - Re:DON'T CLICK!! GOATSE.CX LINK (1)

Dasigner (670983) | more than 10 years ago | (#6602558)

I might have my funny bone out of whack today, but I laughed, ummm, my ass out at the ... ah ... comparative astronomy ;) (No, it's not a redirect.)

Re:DON'T CLICK!! GOATSE.CX LINK! (1)

Eccles (932) | more than 10 years ago | (#6603193)

whatever you do, don't click on the parent post's so-called "ASS-tronomy pic of the day." It is just a goatse.cx redirect!

Huh? It's just a picture of the rings around Uran -- oh, never mind.

Probably? (0, Redundant)

Xoid629 (598744) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601781)

"... this is probably the reason for all the Mars probes launched over the last few months."
Umm... yes, exactly as has been mentioned in most articles mentioning those probes. Seriously, it's not a matter of speculation. Its been quite obvious for some time that several probes have been launched in response to this event.

The Power of /. (3, Informative)

joepa (199570) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601833)

Slashdot has just made "Close Encounters of the Mars Kind" the most read story [elitegeek.org] in the recorded history of Elite Geek (and by quite a large margin).

its a shame (1)

Gimpy-Joe (580838) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601835)

it seems like amateur astronomy has gone onto the back burner for kids these days. Finally! an excuse to find and set up my old telescope

Dude.... (3, Funny)

Cable_Monkey (516166) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601857)

Source: My E-Mail.

That isn't fair! My teachers would never let me reference my email when turning in a paper. >:-(

Telescope + Linux + Mars = KStars (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6601916)

For those who are running linux and want to track Mars (among other things), you can use KStars [kde.org] to do just that. KStars with telescope control can be checked out from the CVS now.

Here is a screenshot [kde.org] showing KStars tracking the moon.

D'Ya Think? (2, Funny)

reallocate (142797) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601934)

>> "...this is probably the reason for all the Mars probes launched over the last few months."

Gee, d'ya think?

Hopeless, hopeless.

Saw it last night (3, Funny)

mholt108 (229701) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601959)

Girlfriend looked up into the sky and said oooohhhh isnt that a big star. Deary me! replies he, thats no star viewed from afar, thats just a plantet, get it right god damitt!

Re:Saw it last night (1)

Mantorp (142371) | more than 10 years ago | (#6602768)

I had a similar discussion with my daughter, to her defense she's only three.

Jeez (2, Insightful)

LooseChanj (17865) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601969)

"According to Agg over at OCAU, this is probably the reason for all the Mars probes launched over the last few months."

Does this really need to be said?

What if... (1)

eugene_t00ms (599365) | more than 10 years ago | (#6601978)

Wouldn't it be great if Shenzhou-5 [spacedaily.com] had a few "undisclosed capabilities" such as planetary landings, and the Chinese decided to shock the world and be the first to Mars. For all of you out there that know more than I about the hardware needed, distances involved and the orbital mechanics of it, would this be within the realm of possibility?

no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6602222)

nt

Re:What if... (1)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 10 years ago | (#6602266)

You'd have to have a fairly large spacecraft (read, MUCH larger than anything currently launching except the Shuttle which is largely empty cargo space anyway). The reason for the size is because the trip (even one-way) would take months and you need to keep the human crew fed, warm, and breathing. It would be quite easy based on spacecraft size alone to determine if someone were going for something more than an orbital joyride.

Azimuth? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6602020)

At the beginning of August, Mars will rise in the east at 10 p.m. and reach its azimuth at about 3 a.m.

I would have thought, whatever its azimuth is at any given time, there it is already.

War of the Worlds (2, Interesting)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 10 years ago | (#6602121)

I think it would be great if some national radio show would rerun Orson Wells radio adaptation of the H.G. Wells classic "war of the worlds" which aired on halloween night in the 30's. For those of you who never heard it, it so panicked the east coast that most of it's residents thought the martians had invaded the world LOL

Headlines in Martian Times (3, Funny)

vikrant (198696) | more than 10 years ago | (#6602156)

An article in the Most popular mars daily paper reads:

Little green men on Mars are being warned about the upcoming close encounter with our appearently beautiful neighbor, Earth.

The inhabitants of the planet Earth are known to be greedy, territorial and suicidal (they have enough nuclear power to blow their planet 10 times over. We still don't understand why they call our planet "The God of War"). They have already consumed their home planet, and are expected to be looking towards us during this encounter. Some of them may even try to hop on to our side. Reports confirm 2 or 3 rocket ships launched earlier this year moving towards Mars.

Continue staying underground in caves. Build no canals, humanoid faces or any other structures on the surface reflecting presence of intelligent life on our planet. continue the planet wide dust storm as it will repel the earthlings.

Earth will probably stink because of high leavels of pollution.

---
The secret source of humor is not joy but sorrow; there is no humor in Heaven.
-- Mark Twain

Why is Agg at Overclockers Australia Quoted? (1)

mykepredko (40154) | more than 10 years ago | (#6602357)

I don't like to question the submitters, but this has to be one of the most questionable references I've ever seen here.

How about next time quoting somebody from an orgnaization that is involved with the spacecraft? NASA, ESA (European Space Agency), NASDA (Japan's Space Aerospace Agency) and even CSA (Canadian Space Agency) have all got hardware on the way and probably could provide a inforamtion that is more useful and authoritative than what was put here.

A good start would be explaining why you would want to send spacecraft when the planets are close together. My understanding is that they were launched to save fuel (ie the latest US Rovers were launched on Delta IIs rather than Titans because the close proximity of Mars allows this). As for why, I have no idea because I would have thought it would take as much energy climbing out of Earth's gravity well regardless of how far away the target is.

myke

No dust storms this year (2, Interesting)

p_trekkie (597206) | more than 10 years ago | (#6602450)

Hauled out my little 8" equatorial reflector to a dark sky site Friday night and had spectacular resolution of surface features. Southern polar cap was crystal clear as were many other surface features that I can't describe very well without a map of Mars handy. That was only at 120-240x. 2 years ago, at the last opposition, I looked at Mars through a scientific grade 12" refractor, and it was just a featureless orange ball. This year is much better. The closeness aspect isn't really so much of an improvement (from an observational standpoint) as the lack of dust storms. I just hope I get a chance to point the big refractor at it again this time around.....

Rocket Scientist (1)

Natchswing (588534) | more than 10 years ago | (#6602521)

> According to Agg over at OCAU, this is probably the reason for all the Mars probes launched over the last few months.

Agg must be a friggin rocket scientist to put those to together, or not for reiterating the obvious.

Planetary travel is all about delta V.

Bright Mars (1)

Doug Neal (195160) | more than 10 years ago | (#6602568)

This explains why Mars has been so clear and bright in the night sky in recent weeks. A distinctly orange tinted bright light in the sky to the south...

Re:Bright Mars (1)

porkchop_d_clown (39923) | more than 10 years ago | (#6603261)

It's the brightest thing in the skies these days.

All those probes... (1)

WoTG (610710) | more than 10 years ago | (#6602587)

It's going to be great watching the data come back from the 4 (I think) probes to Mars. There should be a lot of interesting video and photos over the next couple months. I hope all of the probes make the journey in one piece.

BTW. Anyone know how "spread out" these probes are supposed to land? I hope that at least one is aimed at one of the polar regions.

One more thing, to all people who say, "So what, Mars almost as close every 15 years." Well, how long do you expect to live? Every 15 years is somewhere between 3-5 chances in the average lifetime. So, go stare at Mars for a while, it isn't this "big" in the sky every day ya know.

Just heard on the radio... (2, Funny)

tjstork (137384) | more than 10 years ago | (#6602709)

Some sort of weird thing is going on in Northern New Jersey. Not sure what it is, but evidently there was some kind of an explosion and communications with a town was lost...

Probably? (1)

CommieBozo (617132) | more than 10 years ago | (#6603158)

According to some web site about overclocking, this is probably the reason many Mars probes have been launched recently

Could you not be bothered to find out for sure? Why is your source for this non-information a web site about overclocking?

Oh, wait, it's okay. This isn't real journalism.

ROTFL... (1)

porkchop_d_clown (39923) | more than 10 years ago | (#6603238)

What's really funny is that the window for launching the probes was mentioned every freaking time one of them went up, but apparently international news isn't as reputable a source as "elitegeek".

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