Your Turn To Steer the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter & Other News From Mars

  • NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

The HiRISE gang at the UA Lunar and Planetary Lab have a beautiful new batch of Mars photos.

They're also introducing a new feature: HiWish, which lets you suggest areas you'd like the HiRISE camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to target.

If you're interested in learning more about our sister planet, the University of Arizona College of Science will be offering three different talks about Mars this Friday, Jan. 29. Details:

Every few years the Earth passes Mars in their journeys around the Sun and we are given a front row seat to view our Martian neighbor up close and personal.

On Jan. 29, the Red Planet will rise in the eastern sky around 8 p.m.

While Mars will only look like a bright orange star with unaided eyes, telescopes will zoom in on details such as the polar ice caps and large

surface features for possibly some of the best images in four years.

On Jan. 29, three University of Arizona College of Science centers will host events and connect via the Internet for joint presentations to answer questions about Mars:

Is there water on Mars?

Biosphere 2 will offer a discussion about water and life on Mars with Regents' Professor of Geosciences and Planetary Sciences, Vic Baker, at its HiRISE Gallery with refreshments before connecting with SkyCenter for live images of Mars. The Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association will provide telescopes for viewing as well.

Why Mars, what water and why now?

Flandrau: The UA Science Center will host a presentation entitled "High-resolution Views of an Icy Mars" about Mars water, missions and landforms with Shane Byrne of the UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, followed by a brief program on Mars' changing appearance in the sky prior to connecting with SkyCenter for live Mars images and viewing through Flandrau's 16-inch observatory telescope.

Flandrau and the University Astronomy Club also will provide portable telescopes for viewing the sky after the event.

What can we see of Mars from Earth?

The Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter will extend its SkyNights program at the 24-inch telescope to include special Mars viewing and the connection to Biosphere 2 and Flandrau programs for extended discussion as well as offer a video of the Mars observation.

Join in by visiting one of the three venues. For more information about reservations (only needed for SkyNights, not at Biosphere 2 or Flandrau), start times and event details, visit the Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter Web site or call 520-626-8122.