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New Dust Storm on Mars Viewable with Telescopes

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the we'll-be-able-to-see-the-space-zombies-coming dept.

Space 105

starexplorer writes "Space.com is reporting that a large dust storm has just began on Mars, just as the Red Planet has gotten in prime viewing location this weekend with a decent sized backyard telescope. An amazing stroke of luck for everyone this weekend! Three PDF Viewing Guides, movies and more available to help get you started."

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Viewable with My Telescope? (5, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901229)


I've got a Meade 125-ETX, I wonder how visible this will be. The last time Mars was close and I lugged the scope out It was mostly a brown smudge.

Mars will be 43,137,071 miles from Earth at around 11:25 p.m. ET Saturday.

That's 13,803,862,720 rods for the anti-science crowd.

Re:Viewable with My Telescope? (1)

eingram (633624) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901272)

I've an ETX-90, and I can make Mars out as brilliant red disc with some darker terrain visible. That was at the beginning of the month. This year Mars is near the zenith at opposition which means less air between us and our target!

Re:Viewable with My Telescope? (3, Funny)

Rob_Ogilvie (872621) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901327)

This year Mars is near the zenith at opposition which means less air between us and our target!

Actually, there's probably almost the same amount of air between us and Mars... just a little bit less space. :-) </nitpick mode>

Re:Viewable with My Telescope? (2, Informative)

eingram (633624) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901395)

Well, there is more air between us and Mars when Mars is just rising, and less air once it reaches zenith (directly overhead). Any astronomer will tell you that they prefer to view things near the zenith because if seeing (atmospheric conditions like blurring) is bad, it won't be as bad near the zenith.

However, their necks and backs may not agree.

Re:Viewable with My Telescope? (1)

Taladar (717494) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902253)

And as any astronomer will tell you too talking about zenith without providing a location on Earth doesn't make much sense, especially when talking about it on an international website...

Re:Viewable with My Telescope? (2, Funny)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901440)

Air and space are insignificant. It's ether that matters.

Re:Viewable with My Telescope? (1)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901544)

I thought ether wasn't matter at all...

Re:Viewable with My Telescope? (2, Funny)

Limburgher (523006) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901311)

That's 13,803,862,720 rods for the anti-science crowd.

How many furlongs is that?

Re:Viewable with My Telescope? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901328)

How many furlongs is that?

Get out your abacus and multiply by 8

Re:Viewable with My Telescope? (1)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901529)

How many furlongs is that?

Get out your abacus and multiply by 8

Actually, you divide by 40, nimrod.

Re:Viewable with My Telescope? (1)

SeventyBang (858415) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902189)



'spose he's one of those guys if you'd ask him how many sheep are in a field, would count the number of legs and divide by four?

(sorry, I just couldn't resist)

Re:Viewable with My Telescope? (1)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902389)

Maybe. I just saw his post as a good opportunity to make a pun.

Re:Viewable with My Telescope? (1)

Agret (752467) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901444)

13 803 862 720 rods = 345 096 568 furlongs

Re:Viewable with My Telescope? (1)

ezzzD55J (697465) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901911)

$ units
510 units, 54 prefixes
You have: rod
You want: furlong
                * 0.025
                / 40

rods to furlongs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13903066)

Google search: 13803862720 rods in furlongs [google.com]

345 096 568 furlongs

Re:Viewable with My Telescope? (1)

pellis23 (120853) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903246)

95,96,568 furlongs according to Google [google.com]

Re:Viewable with My Telescope? (5, Informative)

deathcow (455995) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901320)

With a Meade 125-ETX, assuming 1) the system is working well, and 2) you keep your diagonals and eyepieces clean, and 3) your atmospheric seeing conditions are OK, you should be able to observe the dust storm as a bright patch on the planet. You would be able to see the dark and light "albedo" regions of the planet and find the dust storm based on them.

The features of Mars can be quite subtle. It will help if you are warm, sitting comfortably, and able to watch for a long enough period to experience good moments of atmospheric seeing.

The more time you observe, the greater your chances of getting those unusual moments of clarity. Many, MANY people will spend about 5 minutes looking at Mars in variably moderate seeing and give up on it. This is not the way to see the most your telescope has to offer.

Mike

Re:Viewable with My Telescope? (1)

matr0x_x (919985) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901505)

I own a Meade 125-ETX and it is nothing to get excited about IMO

Re:Viewable with My Telescope? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13901684)

3) your atmospheric seeing conditions are OK, you should be able to observe the dust storm as a bright patch on the planet.

As a follow up ... the higher Mars is in the sky, the better chance of escaping pollution and atmospheric haze that can obscure the features. Midnight on should provide the best seeing.

And as I've noticed (1)

CiXeL (56313) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902012)

the longer you stare at it the longer your mind starts reading things into what you're seeing and the next thing you know you're looking at martian canals.

Re:And as I've noticed (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902112)

No man, you've got it all wrong. The longer you stare at it the more the Martians start reading your mind. Have they already gotten to you, too?

Mars Dust Bad! (5, Interesting)

deathcow (455995) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901236)

While this is exciting for amateur astronomers to see a process like this happening on Mars, it's also very forboding and ominous. Mars has a bad habit of becoming engulfed in planet wide dust storms which almost totally hide the surface features of the planet.

I am sure many amateurs like myself would prefer NO dust storms on Mars while it is so close to the Earth, and so favorably positioned for Northern hemisphere observers. This has been a great Mars apparition so far, I've watched it growing in the eyepiece since August. If the dust stays clear, Mars will be large enough to enjoy until almost February. If it turns into a cloudy red ball, well...

This page shows a dust storm growing from the 2003 apparition of Mars, and a picture of the dreaded featureless red ball.
http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2003/09jul_mars dust.htm [nasa.gov]

Re:Mars Dust Bad! (5, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901259)

While this is exciting for amateur astronomers to see a process like this happening on Mars, it's also very forboding and ominous. Mars has a bad habit of becoming engulfed in planet wide dust storms which almost totally hide the surface features of the planet.

Also plays havoc with tracking giant sand worms and collecting spice.

Re:Mars Dust Bad! (1)

Cruithne (658153) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901270)

I am sure many amateurs like myself would prefer NO dust storms on Mars while it is so close to the Earth

My thoughts exactly. What is so fortunate about having your perfect view obscured? Was the OP expecting Twister in Dolby 5.1?

Re:Mars Dust Bad! (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901330)

Mars has a bad habit of becoming engulfed in planet wide dust storms which almost totally hide the surface features of the planet.

It looks impressive from here but I am not sure how dense the dust really is. If a storm like this impacts on one of the two rovers currently operating there it would definitely cause some power supply problems for them, but I don't know if this would be immediately fatal.

Re:Mars Dust Bad! (1)

Stephen Samuel (106962) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902794)

I'm thinking that this may be an interesting opportunity to see a Mars dust storm (and what it does) from the inside. It may have an impact on the rovers' ability to run around on the surface, but it may also make some entirely new science possible.

It may even be possible to track the wind speeds of the storm if two closely spaced images are lucky ehough to track a recognizable object moving across the line of sight.

In the meantime, the dust storms don't make any real difference to my personal view, because I live in Vancouver [ec.gc.ca] which is almost permanently clouded over at this time of year.

Re:Mars Dust Bad! (1)

ashitaka (27544) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902949)

So what do you use the rest of the year? There were some really nice nights this past summer when even the lights from YVR couldn't diminish the seeing up here in Kerrisdale.

Re:Mars Dust Bad! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903027)

In the meantime, the dust storms don't make any real difference to my personal view, because I live in Vancouver which is almost permanently clouded over at this time of year.

Looks a bit like Venus. Must be warm :)

Re:Mars Dust Bad! (1)

Stephen Samuel (106962) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905313)

Actually, it is. the parts of Vancouver near sea-level rarely go below zero and even more rarely get snow. In th summer it's absolutely fabulous.

Re:Mars Dust Bad! (1)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901429)

Are you suggesting they send a giant Swiffer up with the next rover?

Rovers (1)

stevesliva (648202) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901586)

I'm far more concerned about the Mars Rovers being able to weather the storm, and come out without their solar panels dust-covered.

Re:Rovers (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901650)

Yeah, these storm winds look big. Wouldn't they be throwing the rovers around?

Re:Rovers (2, Informative)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901764)

No. Due to the lower gravity and atmospheric density on Mars, it is very easy for even light winds to whip the dust into what look like impressive storms. However, something reasonably solid such as a rover can (in theory, wouldn't recommend it due to the dust abrasion etc) plough straight through the middle of whirlwinds etc. with no issues of being flung around.

Re:Mars Dust Bad! (1)

Doug Coulter (754128) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901697)

Last time everyone said "go look at mars, it's as close and bright as it is going to get in your lifetime", we did. We used a 10" Meade telescope, bought an adapter for a Nikon Coolpix 990 camera, and got...pictures of an orange/brown sphere. This was pretty disapointing until all the astro mags came in with an apology for getting us out there during a planet wide dust storm. We accurately saw that there was nothing to see. Fun star party, though.

Re:Mars Dust Bad! (1)

Gojira Shipi-Taro (465802) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903082)

That was my initial response. Why would anyone want a dust storm at this close observation period? we want to see the surface, not some Zephyr.

To complex (2)

spikexyz (403776) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901250)

Dust storms are obviously complex events with particles going in all sort of directions...clearly indicate the existance of an intelligent dust storm causer.

Re:To complex (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13901340)

Perhaps this is the work of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? This seems like something that his noodleyness might enjoy.

Is this caused by Global Warming??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13902078)

Is this caused by Global Warming???

Re:Is this caused by Global Warming??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13902332)

Actually, yes...

In 2003 there was a giant storm on Mars... from this [nasa.gov] article about it:

Sunlight on Mars is about to become unusually intense. The planet goes around the sun in a 9%-elliptical orbit with one end 40 million km closer to the sun than the other. Mars reaches perihelion--its closest approach to the sun--on August 30th. During the weeks around perihelion, sunlight striking Mars will be 20% more intense than the annual average.

"This means the season for dust storms is just beginning," says Bell.


There is apparently an accepted correlation between Martian solar intensity and Martian dust storms.

Lucky? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13901260)

An amazing stroke of luck for everyone this weekend!

Not if you live on Mars.

Re:Lucky? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13901443)

It's horrible here! Our fellow martians are dying! Please make a donation on http://redplanet.recross.org/ [recross.org] , thanks.

Emperor Yack Tzomphson
Mars

Re:Lucky? (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902137)

George Bush doesn't care about green people.

Re:Lucky? (1)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901477)

If you lived on Mars, this might indeed be a good thing. With no natural rivers to bring to replenish nutrients, dust storms would be quite an advantage when farming. Granted, they would likely sandblast anything you had planted, so you would have to harvest before storms, but I think that, on the whole, they would be quite beneficial. I wonder what Earthly plants could survive in a cold, tenuous carbon dioxide atmosphere, with thick enough bark to sustain a sandstorm?

What was the sweet smell in NYC? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13901263)

Reading through people's blogs today it sounds like something very weird.
One guy said it was so strong it was like his clothes were washed in maple syrup.

Re:What was the sweet smell in NYC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13901338)

ap article [washingtonpost.com] is the best non-subscription one i could find

Re:What was the sweet smell in NYC? (1)

madaxe42 (690151) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901430)

That's weird - we had the same in London today?! Kinda like caramel, all down the Thames.

Re:What was the sweet smell in NYC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13901927)

It usually smells like a goat cooking bacon...

Not a dust storm ... (2, Funny)

b3x (586838) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901301)

Its just a herd of RIAA lawyers migrating

Sign of the times (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13902004)

Being dyslexic, I read the last sentence of the summary as "Three PDF Viewing Guides, movies and more available to help get you arrested." And I thought, "great! now even viewing Mars through a telescope has been copyrighted/patented!"

Awesome. Who Knew?? (-1, Flamebait)

moehoward (668736) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901363)

Let's spend a couple hundred billion to go there. Great idea.

30 years ago, I learned in frickin' catholic elementary school that Mars had high-speed winds (on the order of a couple hundred knots), common massive unpredictable dust storms, and other nutty stuff going on, including weird volcanoes and possible large magnitude earth quakes. It would therefore be an almost impossible place to visit. Elton John made a similar point. And if he can agree with the nuns, then there must be some truth to it.

The place is inhospitable and there is noone there to raise your kids. End of story. Can we stop getting our next great ideas from sci-fi and focus on something a little more realistic and just as cool? Like sending probes to various moons in the solar system to look for life?

I don't know where this whole "let's go to Mars" thing started, but it was probably some ill-conceived early-day spam. Let's just not go and say we did. Time to move on.

Re:Awesome. Who Knew?? (2, Funny)

technoextreme (885694) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901471)

30 years ago, I learned in frickin' catholic elementary school that Mars had high-speed winds (on the order of a couple hundred knots), common massive unpredictable dust storms, and other nutty stuff going on, including weird volcanoes and possible large magnitude earth quakes. It would therefore be an almost impossible place to visit. Elton John made a similar point. And if he can agree with the nuns, then there must be some truth to it.
Yes that is a great idea. Let's base our whole opinion of a Mars mission on the opinion of a bunch of nuns and a muscian. They are truly more qualified than a sicentist. Also, Im not sure but I can't find anything about plate tectonics currently being active on Mars. I know there is evidence supporting that it did happen but I don't know if it is currently happening. Do you have any information.

Re:Awesome. Who Knew?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13902103)

If I remember correctly, there used to be plate tectonics in Mars, but it cooled off and now all the volcanoes and such are inactive. Weird volcanoes? Well, Olympus Mons is friggin' huge, but deader than john paul II. There are huge storms without a doubt (just look out yer window!), but given that we'd have to build buildings with an internal overpressure (1 atm inside, much less outside), I'm sure they'd be capable of dealing with a 'massive storm'.

Re:Awesome. Who Knew?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13901473)

Well, there's always venus. If you could stabilise the atmosphere and get some water there, it'd be pretty much earth-tropical. The trouble is that whole water thing. It'd take regular convoys to keep a colony going. With established strong buildings, we could survive the whole wind-and-earth mars thing, if there's water.

See, water's a wonderful thing. It doesn't just keep us alive, either. A large body of water remains about temperature neutral, so it acts as a heat sink in the day and a heat source at night. Put a big ocean on Venus and we could live there. Same with Mars, which'd be about as cold as a Moscow Winter.

Now find a way to do it.

Re:Awesome. Who Knew?? (1)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901593)

Not quite. The atmosphere on Venus is many times denser than that on Earth. Until we knocked a lot of the gas out of the atmosphere, we'd have to live in pressure suits or stay high in the air. Also, the atmosphere is full of sulphuric compounds which would have to be neutralised. Venus already has a lot of water, however, all the surface water has been vapourised -- the planet suffers from a run away greenhouse effect.

green? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13901868)

then where is the green?

Re:Awesome. Who Knew?? (1)

WalksOnDirt (704461) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903624)

Venus has very little water, around 20 ppm according to one site I checked, and to get that you would have to extract it from sulfuric acid. Venus is thought to have lost almost all of its primordial water to photo dissociation, with the hydrogen then escaping to space. The evidence for this is a greatly elevated deuterium to hydrogen ratio compared to Earth.

Re:Awesome. Who Knew?? (1)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903669)

Thanks for the enlightenment :)

Re:Awesome. Who Knew?? (1)

Toloran (858954) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902063)

Mars is techtonically dead so earthquakes don't happen. Also, a "couple hundred knots" of wind isn't as impressive on Mars as it is on Earth. Winds on earth that qualify as hurricane speeds on earth, would feel more like a light breeze on Mars due to the low air pressure.

Also, if we want create a colony on another celestial body besides the moon, Mars would be the best choice. Venus is way too hot and has major acid rain. Moons are a bad idea because prolonged exposure to low G environments can cause health problems. Mars, even if it has high winds, is the most similar to earth. It would also be easier to colonize with our current level of technology then venus would.

Not Viewable ... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13901397)

VISIBLE!!!

I'll never read Slashdot again.

Re:Not Viewable ... (1)

pla (258480) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901574)

Not Viewable ... VISIBLE!!!

But you didn't have a problem with "has just began"?

Re:Not Viewable ... (1)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901678)

But you didn't have a problem with "has just began"?

Dude, it's Friday night and he's still at home in front of his computer posting on Slashdot. He probably depressed about that, so he can't catch everything. I mean, really. Friday night .. at home .. posting on Slashdot .. and you expect him to ...

Uh ...

Wait a minute ...

Well, I'm married with two kids, both less than 6 years old. At least that gives me an excuse for not having a life on a Friday night. :)

A proper explanation - without TMM karma whoring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13901623)

Here is more information courtesy of dictionary.com. Oh, and I've also done this as AC because I don't want to be associated with that f**king karma whore known as TripMaster MonkeyWanker.
vis-i-ble
adj.

1. Possible to see; perceptible to the eye: a visible object.
2.
1. Obvious to the eye: a visible change of expression.
2. Being often in the public view; conspicuous.
3. Manifest; apparent: no visible solution to the problem.
4. On hand; available: a visible supply.
5. Constructed or designed to keep important parts in easily accessible view: a visible file.
6. Represented visually, as by symbols.

view
tr.v. viewed, view-ing, views

1. To look at; watch: view an exhibit of etchings.
2.
1. To examine or inspect: viewed the house they were thinking of buying.
2. To survey or study mentally; consider.
3. To think of in a particular way; regard: doesn't view herself as a success; viewed their efforts unfavorably.
The differences are somewhat subtle, but the parent is correct. They're not interchangeable, not that proper English matters on Slashdot.

waiting for "language is constantly evolving and changing so stop trying to act like the way it is now or has been is the way it should always be" trolls to come out from the walls

Mars very good (1)

danielyucra (926756) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901454)

Mars always was great from the Earth, with the unica difference that this time will be seen 69 million kilometers of the Earth

Bad for astronauts (0, Troll)

Nutria (679911) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901494)

Who wants to go explore and live on a planet where there are regular "continent-sized" dust storms?

Not I.

Face it: humans evolved in the specific circumstances of the surface of the Earth, and until we can create a practical high-energy source that allows for heavily-shielded spaceships/habitats, it will be extremely expensive to keep humans alive & healthy anywhere else.

Re:Bad for astronauts (2, Insightful)

Somegeek (624100) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901732)

It's not about going to Mars because its a pretty fun place to visit like Disneyland. It's about going to Mars because of a desire to learn about new environments and new science and new technology.

We are like 15th century Europe about to start exploring the Americas, it's a huge wild dangerous place filled with great unknowns and fantastically huge potential. Should we stay home in our safe little castles or step out into the next frontier and learn how to live there and what its pitfalls and rewards are?

Re:Bad for astronauts (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902517)

It's not about going to Mars because its a pretty fun place to visit like Disneyland. It's about going to Mars because of a desire to learn about new environments and new science and new technology.

We are like 15th century Europe about to start exploring the Americas, it's a huge wild dangerous place filled with great unknowns and fantastically huge potential. Should we stay home in our safe little castles or step out into the next frontier and learn how to live there and what its pitfalls and rewards are?


It seems as though you are forgetting how incerdibly hostile that Space is:
  • hard vacuum
  • weightlessness (calcium leeches out of bones)
  • gamma (and other?) radiation
  • cold
  • heat
  • energy (our own)

That's just the big stuff that we know about. Then there's the stuff we don't know about and so can't plan for, and there the "other things" like:
  • water/comestibles - there are no South Seas islands to occasionally stop at to barter for fresh water & supplies, or oceans to catch fish in.
  • those Martian sand storms - will they sandblast the spacecraft?
  • lunar dust, having never been eroded by water, is very abrasive - how will it affect mechanical instruments?

To follow with your European exploration analogy, I say that we are not yet at the Nina, Pinta & Santa Maria stage yet. Rather, we are ancient Greeks who have reed boats that can travel from island to island. We'll get to the point of 15th century Europeans when we develop an adequate power source.

Re:Bad for astronauts (1)

Somegeek (624100) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903391)

Please note: I am not a scientist/astronaut/engineer/... so all of my info is second hand, but I believe it to be correct as far as we know.

So with that grain of salt, I think we are farther along that you think.

Except for the duration of travel, the Moon is a harsher mistress than Mars. It's colder at night, hotter in the day, less gravity while you're staying there, the long night will be killer on any scenario that tries to use solar power or batteries, and the radiation is worse due to no atmosphere or magnetic shield whatsoever. As to the dust both of our Viking landers lived though dust storms on Mars and survived unscathed.

We already have the technology to cross space and land on another body; that's old hat. The only trick with Mars is getting enough provisions along for the ride; food, fuel, water, air. Those are funding and coordination issues, not new technology and research issues. We could leave for Mars in five years if we had the political will power and funding. We just need a big man-rated launcher again and NASA is finally working on that.

hard vacuum - Apollo dealt with that.
weightlessness - string out a tether, capsule at one end, some equal mass at the other, spin at appropriate speed and presto, one gravity while enroute.
cosmic and solar flare radiation - minimal shielding in flight, their cancer risk goes up about 1% over their lifetime after a two year trip.
cold - Apollo dealt with that.
heat - Apollo dealt with that.
energy (our own) - If you are referring to electricity, take a small nuclear plant, we do it for subs, for space probes, for satellites - its not mystery science.

If you are talking about human energy to last through the mission, well, that's a question. My guess is that it won't be an issue with the right personality type. They will still be able to be in contact with Earth via radio, Internet (bluetooth 3.0 has a realllly long range... :), etc. I mean, how many guys on slashdot go for years with nothing but a computer, the internet and porn? Just don't send a neat freak with a slob. And I think that an all male, heterosexual crew is the only way to go. But I'm not a sociologist either....

I really think that we are ready to go, we just need a friendly Queen to finance us. Wouldn't it be cool if Queen Elizabeth II browses slashdot? :)

If you want a great book on the subject, read The Case for Mars [amazon.com] by Robert Zubrin. It's a great book, discusses all of this, specifically in chapter 5 - 'Killing the Dragons'.

Re:Bad for astronauts (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903807)

It's about going to Mars because of a desire to learn about new environments and new science and new technology.

You do that with probes, not with people. Human space exploration is literally a worthless idea. Anything a human can do on Mars, a robot can do a thousand times as efficiently.

Unlike the Americas, Mars isn't hospitable to humans so there's no reason to live there.

Central star? (1)

azatht (740027) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901560)

Earth is closer to the Sun, so it effectively passes Mars every 26 months as both worlds orbit the central star.
Does we orbit any other stars?

Re:Central star? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13901634)

Does we orbit any other stars?

That depends on how fat Anna Nicole Smith's ass is this week.

Re:Central star? (1)

3vi1 (544505) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901743)

Maybe he's referring to Nemesis.

Re:Central star? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13903236)

Wow, a decent SF reference of /.

I never thought i'd see the day.

Since nobody's mentioned it yet... (2, Funny)

azuroff (318072) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901602)

It's all Bush's fault!!

It's not bad enough that he has to screw up one planet's climate, now he's messing with Mars! If only he had signed that Kyoto treaty...

Re:Since nobody's mentioned it yet... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13901661)

Hardly, if the current plans are any indication the Moon's going to be screwed up long before Mars.

Sure sign of intelligence! (1)

llamalicious (448215) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901616)

Those martians really are an introverted crowd, throwing up a big dust storm to prevent all of us perverted peeping humans from getting a look at their wives' nighties through their windows!

Wait a minute... (1)

Pichu0102 (916292) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901629)

How is Mars having a dust storm? What is causing it? I thought energy can't be produced?

Re:Wait a minute... (2, Informative)

tzot (834456) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901704)

Have you seen a strange large ball of fire in the sky? Ever considered it might be a source of energy?

Earth is closer to the Sun than Mars is, but there's still a lot of energy reaching Mars' surface.

Re:Wait a minute... (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902387)

...and, unlike our Moon, Mars has suffcient mass to retain a tenuous atmosphere that can support dust for extended periods.

In Case of Slashdotting - Backyard View of Mars (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13901681)

.

The storm can be clearly seen in the equatorial region.

My god! (1)

chris_eineke (634570) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903433)

It's full of... dust?

Voyager 2 observed dust storms (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13901749)

Dust storms were also observed on Mars by Voyager 2 (see Voyager 2 Mars Gallery [wikipedia.org] ). They started in the polar regions and spread to the middle latitudes. However, the image resolution was not good so we do not have much information.

Re:Voyager 2 observed dust storms (1)

jftitan (736933) | more than 8 years ago | (#13901983)

HA HA, Ass....

Re:Voyager 2 observed dust storms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13902008)

Werent those from Voyager 1?

Disappointment... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13901975)

How are we supposed to see The Rock then?

Amateur power . . . (3, Informative)

flug (589009) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902079)

This is a great example of the type of work that can and is still being done by amateur astronomers.

(Actually Clay Sherrod, who seems to be the first to have imaged this storm, isn't an amateur but he's active in the ALPO Mars section which consists mainly of amateurs and he images at a small observatory, not some huge government funded observatory with various gigantic telescopes.)

The thing is, the big expensive government funded telescopes, or the Hubble, for example, can take better photos of Mars than amateurs can. But there is the question of coverage . . . the big expensive telescopes just don't have the resources (ie, observing time) to image Mars (or any other particular object or planet) several times a night whenever that object is visible.

But amateurs do have the observing time available and they do the work . . . result is, amateurs do a lot of the meat & potatoes of keeping an eye on things like Mars or Jupiter.

More of Sherrod's photos of the beginning of the Mars dust storm [arksky.org] and numerous photos of this Mars apparition [arksky.org] .

Since Sherrod is imaging Mars pretty much every possible night, he was on the spot to catch this as it happened . . .

Also, if you haven't been following trends in astro-imaging, you may be amazed at the quality of images people are now getting using relatively modest telescopes (generally 8 to 14 inch scopes, the sort of thing you can buy basically off the shelf for maybe $800 to $5000) coupled with inexpensive webcams.

See numerous amateur astronomer's images of this apparition of Mars here [arizona.edu] . (warning--LOTS of images on that page).

Those poor Martians... (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902095)

... are down there suffering in that storm, and all we can do is talk about how cool it is.

George Bush doesn't care about green people. With tentacles. And big bug eyes. Mind control devices. Heat rays, anti-gravity belts, uranium PU-32 space modulators...

Huh? We can't even see the moon properly! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13902224)

If we can see a dust storm on mars, surely we'd be able to see the lunar rovers on the moon which is a hell of alot closer, right?

Re:Huh? We can't even see the moon properly! (1)

paradaxiom (248955) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902367)

If we can see a dust storm on mars, surely we'd be able to see the lunar rovers on the moon which is a hell of alot closer, right?


Only if the lunar rovers were 3.66 miles long ...

In[1]:= Solve[x/225745==700/43137071.,x]

Out[1]= {{x -> 3.66324}}

Where 225,745 is the lower bound of the distance to the moon (in miles).

Where 700 is the size of the Mars storm (in miles).

Where 43,137,071 is the current distance to Mars (in miles).

What about the rovers that just wont quit (2, Interesting)

elfarto (650512) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902286)

I wonder how this storm my affect the twin rovers on mars ?
Has anyone heard about this issue ?

Oh geez, better start looking for huge cylinders.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13902392)

They said the chances for life on mars were a million to one...

pressure (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902439)

Atmospheric pressure on mars is ~ 1% of Earth pressure (just googled that). That's a lot of giant dust storm with not much gasses to move it around, eh wot? The dust must be ultra fine and very light for this to happen.

I wonder what the rovers will report? (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902466)

This assumes the dust storm travels over any one of them.

Maybe another power boast? Or would there be any scientific value of observing one huge storm through the cameras of the rovers?

Global Warming? (0, Flamebait)

TummyX (84871) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902597)

This is ridiculous. The ever increasing power of these storms is a clear example of the bushitler administration's refusal to sign the kyoto protocol. At this rate, how are we going to reach the trended goal of a 0.00108 C temperature drop by 2050?

Source of storms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13902824)

How do these dust storms form? I though most wind here is caused by the oceans heating up and cooling down less than solid ground...

Obligatory correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13903086)

It's "has begun", not "has began". Duh!

Excuse my complaint... (1)

fireman sam (662213) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903338)

... But it is overcast here you insensitive clod!

Actually it really is. It was clear last night until about 2 am. Maybe it is the chaos theory on a universal scale:

"If there is anything remotely interesting in space happening this night, would it be overcast where I am?" I say yes.

Colour images (1)

AMD-lover (759977) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903861)

Is it just me or is Mars not so red as previously assumed? The images in TFA are more drab than orange. And NO, I'm not suggesting that plants grow on Mars.

All that dust... (1)

sroske (903503) | more than 8 years ago | (#13904335)

No wonder my allergies are bothering me, and I thought it was a seasonal cold.

Call me pedantic (1)

Archades54 (925582) | more than 8 years ago | (#13904958)

but the word supposed to be begun? began is past tense if i am correct and yeah i've probaby got mistakes too :D
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