Mars in Opposition
Wadham to astronomy, cast our weekly facts based journey through the cosmos where we help you understand not only what we know. But how we know what we know I'm Fraser Cain publisher, of Universe today and with me as always Dr Pamela Gay a senior scientist for the Planetary Science Institute and the Director of Cosmic Quest Pamela. Welcome back from Summer Hiatus I missed you. Thank you. I've missed you too although I have to say it feels like we're like experiencing march. Two. Hundred instead of September at this point time has meaning it doesn't it really has no meaning. Yeah. Yeah. It's a it's a it's a snake in a circle eating its own tail. Made of everything nothing at the same time. I don't know whether I'm coming or going. The days just blur and yet time just takes forever. When do I get my vaccination? You are you are you on I was thinking about this really want to do what I want to go places and see people. That's what I do. To to have gone from having that amazing experience in January where we were together in Hawaii for the W. S meeting. And towards the end of that meeting, we were starting to talk about the news about this strange illness in China and remember the Thursday night on. Talking with a couple of my friends at the conference about. Just want to get home before the illness makes it to Hawaii. And I had no idea that. Nine mice be earlier. Still Yeah, no I guy I had my suspicions but. In. And now I you know we do feel like we're closing in now on the final stretch that more and more vaccines are coming into into the final stage of trials, and there's going to be some kind of roll out but I really hope that that herd immunity will start to get kicked in and we can start to see the end of this hopefully during this season. So we will we will and herd immunity from. Thanks. From getting sick. So we will. Exceed the end of it during the season and. Regular life will return. This season fourteen, our show is major and I feel that having a very cranky year is consistent with going through our teenage ness. Thank you bye-bye. Now this is. All right, every two years or so Mars lines up nicely with the earth it takes only two minutes to communicate with the Rovers. You could see the polar ice caps in a small telescope and it's the best time to send your spacecraft to the Red Planet and also I. Guess. It Mars opposition. Between Your horoscope your Mars horoscope is really good that other works. Maybe, that's Mars in retrograde. That none lucky time. They can happen at the same time whereas in retrograde and an opposition. Yeah. That's true. All right. So so so we're going to talk about how Mars and opposition is a really like the best time for Mars that's Mars really takes over the night sky and shows us what it's got but. Why is Marzano Position? So technically, it is that moment in time when you have the sun, the earth and Mars precisely lined up so that at midnight on earth. Mars is at its highest possible point in our terrestrial sky and if you were to look at it from space. Walk. Would they look from above you're looking down on the solar system and you're looking at? Earth Mars and the sun what would you see? Align they're just nicely in a line. And There's some years where because Mars orbit is a lot more elliptical than earth orbit that we are noticeably closer. There's some years that were noticeably farther apart of back in two thousand and three. There's a lot of Hoopla because we were than. We'd been in hundreds of years would be for another hundred some odd year. He was fifty thousand years was the closest yet had been. Two Thousand and three. And at these closest points, we are more than twenty million miles closer than we are during opposition when Mars is at its far points. So there is a substantial difference, but in the grand scheme of things. Mars is still smaller than allows to see it as a desk without. Really good binoculars or a telescope. So but just to give just to give people a sense of perspective, I mentioned this the beginning of the show it takes two light minutes to communicate with Mars just over two minutes right now we'll win Mars you not position until you can. You know you send your beep boop commands to your over and you're over goes beep boop and sends back it's commands and it's just like you're playing a video game with. Fairly reasonable times, but when Mars is. Old Dial up modem exactly. An Internet game what it gets worse right on average the a the time to transmit to Mars is about twelve and a half minutes and at the very worst when Mars is on the opposite side of the Sun It's twenty minutes. So if you want to send some piece of information to Mars, you've got to wait twenty minutes for the message to get there and then twenty minutes to come back. So. The distances are really significant.