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Top Page. Stargazing on MARS. Your imaginary observatory location, 360 degrees unobstructed view, True dark sky. Environment on Mars. Thin atmosphere, no industrial smog, no light pollution, Excellent seeing and transparency (in absence of sand storms, etc.).

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Top Page

Stargazing

on

MARS

Your imaginary observatory location,

360 degrees unobstructed view,

True dark sky.


Environment on Mars

  • Thin atmosphere, no industrial smog, no light pollution,

  • Excellent seeing and transparency (in absence of sand storms, etc.).

  • Average temperature on Mars is -63ºC/-81.4ºF

  • Atmosphere is composed of 95.32% carbon dioxid and 7.2% nitrogen

  • Average atmospheric pressure is 0.007 bars (about 1/100th of Earth)

  • Gravity is 0.379 of Earth's.

  • A year on Mars is 1.881x of Earth, a day is about 40 minutes longer.


Reason being:

Parallax angles to Proxima Centauri:

on 1 AU base (Earth orbit): 0.773”

on 1.524AU base (Mars orbit): 1.178”

Different Constellations?

It’s only a small step to Mars, but no giant leap into space.

Therefore, the constellations appear like as seen from Earth.

Mars Rover Spirit’s image of Orion as viewed from 15 deg southern latitude on Mars.


South

North

RA: 09h10m43s, Dec: -52º53’09

RA: 21h10m43s, Dec: 52º53’09

Mars’s Polar Axis

  • The orientation of Mars’s axis is different from Earth,

  • Mars has no obvious Pole Stars,

  • Inclination to ecliptic is 1.85º – same zodiac constellations,

  • but different equinoxes and solstices,

  • Mars, too, is subjected to precession and axial tilt variation.


Observing the Martian Moons

Moon Orbits to-scale


Influence of altitude

Influence of latitude

Observing the Martian Moons

Apparent Angular Sizes


Observing the Martian Moons

Fact Sheet

Phobos (‘fear’)

Deimos (‘panic’)

Image: Viking 2 Orbiter

Image: Viking Orbiter

Dimensions

Surface distance

Center distance

Apparent size*

Visual magnitude

Orbit period

Axial rotation of Mars: 1.026 days

27 x 22 x 18 km

5,980 km

9,378 km

12.58’

-9mv max.

0.32 days

rises in the west

15 x 12 x 11 km

20,060 km

23,459 km

2.43’

-5.5mv max.

1.26 days

*In the meridian on 45º latitude,

measured on longest axis.

Angular size variations:

Phobos: 45%,

Deimos: 1.8’ to 2.6’

Image: Phobos-2, Feb 28, 1989

Image: Viking 2, h=30km, 1.2km wide


Observing Mars from its Moons

From Phobos

Simulated view on Valles Marineris

FOV: 120º

Mars’ angular size: 42.5º

(85x the full Earth moon)

From Deimos

Simulated view on the Hellas region

FOV: 120º

Mars’ angular size: 16.7º

(33x the full Earth moon)


Influence of relative orbit position

From Moon to Moon

Visibility Condition

Phobos: 8.2º E/W elongation

Deimos: 20º E/W elongation

Apparent Sizes

  • An exciting performance of fast changes,

  • Observing Phobos from Deimos is most dynamic

  • Phobos - Deimos minimum distance is 14,081km,

  • Phobos - Deimos maximum distance is 32,837km.


Solar Eclipses on Mars

  • Phobos Eclipse

  • Mars Rover Opportunity

  • On March 10, 2004

  • Sun size is 2/3rd

  • Phobos’s is half of Earth Moon

  • Deimos Eclipse

  • Mars Rover Opportunity

  • On sol 39 of its mission

  • Sun size is 2/3rd

  • Deimos size is half of Phobos

  • Eclipses occur several times a day

  • No total eclipses on Mars

  • Less spectacular than on Earth

Phobos eclipse shadow

Mars Global Surveyor. August 26, 1999 over

Western Xanthe Terra. 250km (155mi across)


Observing Earth from Mars

  • Earth is an inner planet,

  • Shows phases like Venus/Mercury,

  • Mean greatest elongation is 41º,

  • Earth transits observable but rare.

  • (last: May 11, 1984; next: Nov 10, 2084)

Venus transit in 2004. Courtesy K. Spencer.

Mars Global Surveyor. May 8, 2003 13:00 UTC

  • Earth of the Past

  • Earth-Mars light time varies between

  • 3 and 22 minutes.

  • In 22 minutes Earth rotates 5.5º

  • towards East (1ºin 4 minutes).


Imaging on Mars

Our Mars Observatory

Mars Rover Spirit

Spirit’s two panoramic CCD cameras.

Spirit’s field of view

  • Location: Gusev Crater, 15º south of equator

  • Mounting: altazimuth, no tracking

  • Pixel area: 1,024 x 1,024 pixels

  • Field of view: 16.8º

  • Resolution: 59” per pixel

  • Equivalent: 35mm SLR with 125mm lens

  • Cost: 400 million US$, excluding shipment



Imaging on Mars

Phobos and Deimos


Imaging on Mars

Phobos and Deimos


Imaging on Mars

Phobos Lunar Eclipse


Imaging on Mars

South Celestial Pole Region



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