The GOP’s Bestest, Brightest, most stable genius

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mars-moon

See the celestial object on the left? That’s Mars. See the one on the right? That’s the Moon. They are not part of each other. The President of the United States in 2019 does not know this.

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The Republican Party in the 21st century has given us George Bush and Donald Trump. While I always thought Bush was not the brightest bulb in his family’s chandelier, I always assumed he had a basic knowledge of how things were. With Trump, one wonders if he ever learned anything over his lifetime other than how to get rich cheating contractors, the government, and banks.

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Donald J. Trump. The best the GOP has to offer. Putin approved, protected by McConnell.

Hey, Donnie? Going to Mars *IS* rocket science, so lets leave it up to the rocket scientists to figure out the best way to get there. It’s clear they’ve decided the Moon is an important waypoint in that journey, so we go there first.

Oh, and in case you missed it, the Moon is 238,000 miles away, and Mars is 34 million (at it’s closest approach). The Moon is not part of Mars. And it’s not made of green cheese. Just thought you’d like to know.

90 days? Ha! How about 15 years!

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opportunity_goodbye

NASA and JPL have closed the books on the Mars Opportunity rover. Designed for a 90 day mission, the little explorer-that-could made it almost 15 years. The last transmission from the rover has been translated into something a bit anthropomorphic and pensive, and variations on the above image have become Internet memes.  Someday someone will find it sitting forlornly in a pile of Martian dust, and at that point we’ll have to decide whether to bring it back to be displayed in the Smithsonian, or to create a permanent historical park on Mars.

Good job, Opportunity (you, too, Spirit and Sojourner). Rest easy, we’ll find you someday.

We landed on Mars today!

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Mars_Insight

Our latest Mars probe landed successfully today, after a 7 month journey from it’s launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Designed to study the physical structure of Mars, the probe will look for water, and use super-sensitive seismometers to study the planet’s interior. It will drill down into the ground beneath the lander to help scientists explore the mantle and core of Mars.

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#Mars Geek: Sept. 3, 1976 #Viking2 lands on Red Planet

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Two days before my 19th birthday. Incredible images to follow the successful Viking 1 lander in July.  What a summer!

#Mars hooey making rounds on #Facebook. Again.

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moon_mars_hooey

Since most people know more about astrology than astronomy (and, no, they’re not the same thing), this nonsense has been making the rounds on Facebook recently.  Needless to say (at least to anyone who paid attention in junior high school science class), Mars will not appear to be as big as the Moon.

The absolute closest distance the Earth and Mars can theoretically ever come to each other is 33.9 million miles.  We’ve never observed that, due to the elliptical nature of the orbits of planets. An approach that close requires a coincidental alignment of orbits that is exceedingly rare.  So rare, that it’s not been observed in human history.

For comparison, the orbits of Venus and the Earth can come within 24 million miles of each other.  The diameter of Venus is 3,032 miles, while Mars is 4,212 (not much difference in the grand scheme of planets).  Earth’s diameter is 7,918 miles. (give or take. It’s a bit more at the equator, less at the poles, due to the spin of the planet on it’s axis.)  Venus, even at it’s closest approach, 10 million miles closer than Mars ever gets, never appears as more than a bright star in the morning or evening sky, so the idea that Mars will look like our Moon is, simply, hooey.  Never going to happen.

If you ever do see something in the sky as big as the Moon (that’s not the Moon), we’re in deep shit.  That’s either the Death Star, or Gallifrey.

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Either one of those, and we’re screwed.

Mars Space Geek – Curiosity seen from orbit

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Curiosity, on Mars, from orbit.  Photo taken by HiRISE.  Just wow.

To give you a sense of scale, here’s the Curiosity’s twin on Earth:

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Science!

(and, as an aside… if NASA can take pictures like this from orbit, and release them, can you imagine what spy satellites are capable of these days? It boggles the mind.  Next time you’re outside, look up, smile, and wave.  It’ll give the CIA and NSA guys something to wonder about!)

Running the Dunes on #Mars

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February 10,2014.  Mars. Unbelievably freaking cool.

The JPL source page, here.

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