Sunday, August 26, 2012

Mars Rover is On the Move

So far the Mars rover mission is going extremely well.  The rover, Curiosity, has blasted rocks, measured mineral components, taken full resolution pictures, tested all the equipment, taken weather and other measurements, and moved in all directions.

It will be terrific for scientists to learn more about our neighboring planet.  Mars is the only planet whose surface can be seen in detail from the Earth. It is reddish in color, and was named after the bloody red God of war of the ancient Romans. Mars is the fourth closest planet to the sun. The diameter of Mars is 4,200 miles, a little over half that of the Earth. Mercury is the only planet smaller than Mars.

Mars is red because it is rusty. There is a lot of iron in the soil, and the air on Mars has made it turn red-just like rusty iron on Earth. 

One of Mars' moons, Phobos, is moving closer and closer to Mars. Scientists think that one day it will crash into Mars.  Phobos is the larger and closer of the two moons with a mean radius of 11.1 km (6.9 mi),  that is 7.24 times as massive as the second moon, Deimos.  A small, irregularly shaped object, Phobos orbits about 6,000 km (3,700 mi) from the Martian surface, closer to its planet than any other known planetary moon.

Mars has the tallest Volcano in the Solar System named Olympus Mons and it is 15 miles high which is three times the height of Mount Everest, as well as that of the total height of the Hawaiian islands (from the floor of the Pacific).

Like Earth, the poles of Mars are covered in ice. The ice becomes thicker in the winter.

Mars orbits the sun every 687 Earth days.

The Martian “day” is about half a hour longer than Earth.

At its brightest, Mars outshines every other planet apart from Venus.

The thin atmosphere of Mars is made of mostly carbon dioxide.

A hundred pound man would weight 38 pounds on Mars.

In 1996 NASA, while studying the ALH 84001 meteorite of Martian origin found in Antarctica in 1984, announced that fossilized micro-organisms from Mars might be present in it.

Valleys and Canyons on Mars suggest that the planet once had large amounts of surface water.

In winter, nighttime temperatures on Mars can drop as low as -191°F.

Here are a few recent pictures from the Mars rover.  Taken from the "mother ship" in orbit above Mars, is a high resolution picture of the area around the rover's landing.  Curiosity landed in the blue area.

A rock on the surface of Mars....

Curiosity will eventually travel to the area circled in blue.

Curiosity's first steps...

A weather report with data from Curiosity...

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