The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum has declared a Mars Day for this Friday 16 July, 10 am – 3 pm. See Martian meteorites, meet Mars research scientists, and see HiRISE images and even 3-D images. If I were going to be in town, it would be worth the 2-hour trip down to DC (I'll be at the AAPT meeting in Portland).
On the MarsWatch home front, we're still getting image submissions and they are looking good! Thanks everyone!
The Astronomy Picture of the Day site, a must see every morning, has a great Mars related image today. Or rather, set of images. It shows a set of drawings of Mars from around the world done on the opposition. It even looks as if it is a complete Martian Sol. Check it out.
I just got a report from Communications in Mars Observations of the Oriental Astronomical Association that an image submitted to them shows evidence of a dust storm over northern Acidalia and crossing over in the the north polar cap region. Check out the image or the the 2× zoomed version.
There are currently no MRO MARCI images from yesterday released for comparison. I'll update as soon as possible.
Today Earth passes Mars as both planets continue their paths around the Sun. If you get a chance to get outside tonight, look over in the east just after sunset to see the bright orange-red planet as it rises. I'm going to try to pull out my C-8 and take a look—for those in the Easter US, we should be able to see a white north polar region (cap/hood) and the dark region Acidalia.
Even Astronomy Picture of the Day is recognizing the opposition!
Well here we are at Closest Approach day, anticipating the upcoming opposition on Friday. In honor of this event, my institution, Rowan University is going to host an observtory open house, so I get to stay late at work tonight. And it even appears that the weather will cooperate with us!
In other Mars news, it is with some sadness that I pass along the report that the Spirit Rover is now the Spirit Lander. It appears that back when Spirit got stuck it got really stuck and without a tow truck on Mars, it's going to remain where it is. But it did have a great 6 year run moving about—and it can still do some great science. Since it is stuck it can continue to do very detailed studies of its local surroundings.
Although there is still one glitch; its solar panels are currently tilted towards the south but with southern winter on the way, the Sun will be in the north. The rover team is working on trying to adjust the tilt enough so that it can stay alive during the winter.
And while we're on the topic of winter death, the Mars Odyssey orbiter is on a listening tour; it is on the lookout for any signs from the Phoenix lander that died at the beginning of the northern winter last year. As summer returns to the north, it might be possible that the craft could warm up enough to reactivate. So far, no signals.