New- Star Chart For Cayman

A new feature as of June 2015 has been added - look at the bottom of this web page and there is a new Star Chart exclusively for Grand Cayman

Pedro Castle, Sunday, 17th January 2010, 6.30 p.m.

Every evening this month, Mars rises earlier until by the end of January it will be visible around sunset, staying up until dawn. The planet will come into Opposition on January 29, 2010 in the constellation Cancer. Two days before, on January 27, 2010, the planet will have come to its closest approach to Earth during this apparition: 99.33 million km (0.66399 AU). This is not very close, as Mars will be quite close to its aphelion at the time of this opposition; the aphelion is passed on March 31, 2010. This opposition will occur during Northern Spring and Southern Autumn on Mars, so primarily observable will be the Northern hemisphere of Mars.
This time, the usual opportunity to launch spacecraft to Mars will pass unused, for the first time since 1994: The two missions originally scheduled for this occasion have both been shifted to 2011/2012, Nasa's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL, also named Curiosity) as well as the Russian Space Agency's Phobos-Grunt spacecraft, a mission scheduled to return samples from Mars' moon Phobos.
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after Mars, the Roman god of war. It is also referred to as the "Red Planet" because of its reddish appearance, due to iron oxide prevalent on its surface. Mars is a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere, having surface features reminiscent both of the impact craters of the Moon and the volcanoes, valleys, deserts and polar ice caps of Earth. Unlike the Earth, Mars is now a geologically inactive planet with no known tectonic activity. It is the site of Olympus Mons, the highest known mountain in the Solar System, and of Valles Marineris, the largest canyon. The smooth Borealis basin in the northern hemisphere may be a giant impact feature covering 40% of the planet. Mars’ rotational period and seasonal cycles are likewise similar to those of Earth.
The exploration of Mars has been an important part of the space exploration programs of the Soviet Union, the United States, Europe, and Japan. Dozens of robotic spacecraft, including orbiters, landers, and rovers, have been launched toward Mars since the 1960s. These missions were aimed at gathering data about current conditions and answering questions about the history of Mars as well as a preparation for a possible manned mission to Mars. The questions raised by the scientific community are expected to not only give a better appreciation of the red planet but also yield further insight into the past, and possible future, of Earth.
The exploration of Mars has come at a considerable financial cost with roughly two-thirds of all spacecraft destined for Mars failing before completing their missions, with some failing before they even begin. Such a high failure rate can be attributed to the complexity and large number of variables involved in an interplanetary journey, and has led researchers to jokingly speak of The Great Galactic Ghoul which subsists on a diet of Mars probes.
Mars is currently host to three functional orbiting spacecraft: Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. On the surface are the two Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity, which took the photograph above) and several inert landers and rovers, both successful and unsuccessful. The Phoenix lander completed its mission on the surface in 2008. Observations by NASA's now-defunct Mars Global Surveyor show evidence that parts of the southern polar ice cap have been receding.

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