At first, the moons of Mars seem somewhat underwhelming as moons go. Small and misshapen, they don’t seem worth our attention. Still, since humans will one day look up at them and call them their own, maybe we should take a closer look at what that view will be like. We might find that they are more interesting than we expect. Continue reading “Moons”

Moons Passing

Phobos & Deimos

NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter catches both moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos, in one sequence. Details:

Posted by NASA Solar System Exploration on Thursday, February 22, 2018

Promo Video Update

Well, the recent rain has delayed work on the promo video. We had planned to shoot at Lordsburg Playa, New Mexico, in order to get the look of a Martian landscape. An inch of rain this week has left standing water, ’cause that’s what desert playas do.

On Mars, the atmospheric pressure at the surface is so low that liquid water would boil away immediately. Here on Earth, we’ll have to wait for the slower process of evaporation.


A long but interesting article on the questionable future of the NASA Space Launch System.

SLS: to be or not to be, or to be something else entirely

Buzz on Mars vs the Moon

Just as appropriate today, with NASA turning its attention back to the Moon, as it was eight years ago.

“The agency’s current Vision for Space Exploration will waste decades and hundreds of billions of dollars trying to reach the Moon by 2020—a glorified rehash of what we did 40 years ago. Instead of a steppingstone to Mars, NASA’s current lunar plan is a detour. It will derail our Mars effort, siphoning off money and engineering talent for the next two decades. If we aspire to a long-term human presence on Mars—and I believe that should be our overarching goal for the foreseeable future—we must drastically change our focus.”

-Buzz Aldrin (Popular Mechanics interview, January 5, 2010)

Solar Wind (Slight Return)

Circling back to my note on solar wind and the Martian atmosphere.

In the note, I described how the solar wind interacts with the ionosphere of Mars to create an induced magnetosphere. Recent data from ESA’s Mars Express mission suggests that this induced magnetosphere actually protects the Martian atmosphere from the ion loss expected to be caused by that same solar wind. Thus, the long held idea that the solar wind blew away Mars’ atmosphere is now in question.

The article below outlines an alternative hypothesis. Rather than losing atmosphere to the solar wind, maybe Mars can’t hold onto one because its gravity is just too weak.

Starman Update

“According to the revised data, Rivkin says, it will take the Tesla about 18.8 months to complete one trip around the sun. This means that the car will reach its farthest distance from Earth in about half that time. The Tesla will cross the orbit of Mars twice per orbit, so Musk is still fulfilling his wish to send his Tesla “to” Mars—it’ll just take a little longer between visits.”