Category: Mars

Why Does Mars Appear To Have Smoke Plumes In I…

Why Does Mars Appear To Have Smoke Plumes In Its Atmosphere?

“On Earth, such plumes typically indicate one of two things: fires or volcanic eruptions. Without carbon-based material or copious amounts of available oxygen, we can rule out fire. Mars possesses the Solar System’s largest volcano in Olympus Mons, but it appears to be extinct. Although there is some circumstantial evidence that Mars may be volcanically active, we’ve never witnessed an eruption. Instead, these plumes are a simple atmospheric phenomenon: clouds.”

Have you ever seen a picture of Mars that displayed a feature that appeared to be an enormous smoke plume rising up from its surface? It isn’t a dust devil, as even though Mars has those, they don’t look like this. It isn’t a volcanic eruption, as even though Mars has multiple enormous volcanoes, they’re not active at this time. And it definitely isn’t fire from a Martian civilization, as Mars doesn’t even have the right atmospheric constituents to make a fire like we can on Earth.

Instead, it’s simply a cloud, albeit a type of cloud that can extend for many hundreds of kilometers around the Martian globe. Come find out how it forms today!

This Is Why Mars Is Red And Dead While Earth I…

This Is Why Mars Is Red And Dead While Earth Is Blue And Alive

“Both Mars and Earth had early atmospheres that were heavy, massive, and extraordinarily rich in CO2. While Earth’s carbon dioxide got absorbed into the oceans and locked up into carbonate rocks, Mars was unable to do the same, as its oceans were too acidified. The presence of sulfur dioxide led to Martian oceans that were rich in sulfuric acid. This led to geology of Mars we’ve discovered with rovers and landers, and pointed to a different cause — the solar wind — as the culprit in the mystery of the missing Martian atmosphere.

Thanks to NASA’s MAVEN mission, we’ve confirmed that this story is, in fact, the way it happened. Some four billion years ago, the core of Mars became inactive, its magnetic field disappeared, and the solar wind stripped the atmosphere away. With our magnetic field intact, our planet will remain blue and alive for the foreseeable future. But for a smaller world like Mars, its time ran out long ago. At last, we finally know why.”

For most of the 20th century, we knew that Earth had a carbon dioxide-rich past for its atmosphere, but that those atmospheric molecules were deposited into the ocean and precipitated or fossilized out as carbonate rocks like limestone and dolomite. We assumed that Mars, which once had a thick atmosphere and a water-rich surface, lost its atmosphere the same way. But landers and rovers changed all of that, discovering very little in the way of carbonate rocks, meaning that there must have been a different process at play to strip the Martian atmosphere away.

It wasn’t until NASA’s MAVEN mission that we knew for sure! Come learn why Mars is red and dead while Earth is blue and alive today.

What Was It Like When Venus And Mars Became Un…

What Was It Like When Venus And Mars Became Uninhabitable Planets?

“But the changes that Mars endured were rapid and sweeping. Planets are born with a fixed amount of internal heat, which radiates away over their lifetime. A planet like Mars, with half the diameter of Earth, is born with only about 10-15% the amount of internal heat as our world, and will therefore see a greater percentage of it radiate away much faster than Earth will.

Approximately 3 billion years ago, the core of Mars became cool enough that it stopped producing that protective magnetic dynamo, and the solar wind began striking the Martian atmosphere. In short order, which is to say in just tens of millions of years, the atmosphere was knocked off into interplanetary space. As a result, the oceans were unable to remain in liquid form, and either froze beneath the surface or sublimated away.”

When our Solar System first formed, it wasn’t just Earth that looked promising for life, but also Venus and Mars. All three of these planets had large, liquid water oceans, substantial atmospheres, and the ingredients for complex biochemistry and even life. Over on Venus, its close proximity to the Sun and the large presence of atmospheric water vapor led to a runaway greenhouse effect, boiling the oceans after just ~200 million years. But Mars, despite being small and distant, maintained Earth-like conditions for 1.5 billion years. Considering that life arose on Earth after just one-sixth of that duration, perhaps Mars once had life, too?

Come get the story of the Solar System’s closest version of a failed version of Earth, Mars, and learn how it ultimately lost its chance at habitability.



“my battery is low and it’s getting dark” is so hauntingly human, so crushingly lonely. I can’t articulate the deep, profound ache that sentence evokes. It’s acceptance and defeat and terror and sadness all at once, all from one tiny machine we asked to explore the stars for us.



“my battery is low and it’s getting dark” is so hauntingly human, so crushingly lonely. I can’t articulate the deep, profound ache that sentence evokes. It’s acceptance and defeat and terror and sadness all at once, all from one tiny machine we asked to explore the stars for us.

Here’s How To See Uranus And Mars Meet I…

Here’s How To See Uranus And Mars Meet In The Sky This Week

“Although there are eight major planets in the Solar System, most of us never see Uranus or Neptune. Undiscovered until well after the invention of the telescope, both worlds cannot be reliably spotted with the naked eye. On rare occasion, however, one of those worlds will pass close to an easily-visible astronomical landmark, providing a perfect viewing opportunity. This Tuesday night, Uranus will pass within just 1° of Mars, enabling clear views with technology no more complex than binoculars.”

Although we know of the existence of many astronomical objects in our Solar System, most of us have never seen any planets other than the ones visible to our naked eye for ourselves. The easiest way to change that is to take advantage of astronomical conjunctions when they occur. When two planets pass close by one another in the sky, they can both clearly be seen at the same time through the right astronomical tool, like a pair of binoculars. This February 12/13, Mars and Uranus will meet in the night sky, passing within 1 degree of each other.

Here’s how to see Uranus, with extra tips for how to discern the planet your seeking from mere nearby, normal stars!


The space vehicle Insight of NASA sent us an interesting picture from Mars. If only we knew what they wanna tell us! Maybe it’s a welcome ceremony!

Don’t forget to follow on instagram! -> fun…

Don’t forget to follow on instagram! -> funophysics

Pieces Of Mars Have Landed On Earth

Pieces Of Mars Have Landed On Earth

“All three of these types are notably different from all the other meteorites found on Earth, but have elemental and isotopic commonalities with one another. The ratio of their oxygen isotopes, in particular, were different from that of other meteorites, as well as having younger formation ages. For a long time, scientists suspected they might have a common origin to one another, distinct from the more typical meteorites.

In 1976, the Viking landers returned direct information about the Martian surface, including the Martian atmosphere and the rocks found on the ground. The similarities were striking, leading many to hypothesize that all three types originated from Mars. But the true “smoking gun” came in 1983, when a variety of trapped gases were found in glass formed by the impact of one such shergottite, and it matched the gases found by Viking on Mars.”

Many of us have witnessed meteor showers, bolides, or even randomly large bodies strike the atmosphere of Earth and leave a brilliant streak across the sky. Every once in a while, such a strike will result in an impact on Earth’s surface, leaving a meteorite behind. As of today, over 61,000 meteorites have been discovered, with most of them having huge commonalities of their physical and chemical properties. A few of them, however, are weirdos. They’re younger, they haven’t been in space for very long, and they’re made out of a different mix of materials from the others. For years, it was speculated that they came from Mars, and with the advent of robotic exploration of the surface, we’ve finally found the smoking gun evidence.

About 0.3% of all the meteorites on Earth have a Martian origin. There are pieces of Mars landing on Earth, and the Solar System is richer for it.

Mars Opportunity And Spirit Rovers Could Have …

Mars Opportunity And Spirit Rovers Could Have Lived Practically Forever With One Tiny Change

“If one extra piece of equipment, such as a compressed air blower aboard a robotic arm, were installed, dusty solar panels could be cleaned at will. Hunkering down to survive a dust storm, even one that blocked 100% of the light, wouldn’t be catastrophic so long as the rovers had enough power stored in their batteries to control and operate the blower mechanism. Had that been in place, Spirit could have saved itself from its 2010 fate, and Opportunity wouldn’t be in the danger it’s in now, in the midst of the enormous dust storm it’s experiencing. Still, even though hindsight is 20/20, it’s pretty hard to be sad about two missions that overachieved beyond anyone’s expectations. But for next time, it’s an invaluable lesson: if you can protect yourself from Martian dust accumulation, you could potentially live forever. At least, if you’re a rover on Mars.”

If a dust storm blots out the Sun, then we shall rove in the shade, says the brave Mars rover. But for a rover like Opportunity, which relies on solar panels, this is a lousy, battery-draining strategy that would be its death knell. Despite the fact that it’s lasted for over 5,000 Martian days and roved for over 45 kilometers, this single large dust storm that it’s caught it could be its absolute end. Unless a natural cleaning event occurs, its panels may be so dust-covered as to be useless, which is how Spirit, its twin, met its demise in 2010. Although the rover has far exceeded its expectations, if it were built with the capability of actively addressing the dust accumulation problem, both Spirit and Opportunity could have lived, practically, forever.

Here are the options for the tiny changes that could have been made that would have kept them alive indefinitely. Go, little rover, go!