Friday, October 17, 2014

Full Disk Galore

While not the most scientifically valuable images, these full disk colour views of Mars from India's Mangalyaan Mars orbiter help to highlight the beauty of the Red planet and helps us to appreciate its harshness and its bleakness and contrast it with our homeworld's lushness and vitality. Note you can see a dust storm brewing in the Northern regions in the image. This is typical for this time of the Martian year as the planet transitions from Northern autumn to winter solstice which will begin next year in June. Due to Mars' eccentric orbit (eccentricity is the degree of deviation from a perfect circle), it tends to get warmer during this time of the year (Northern autumn or southern spring) because the planet comes closer to the sun and consequently experiences thermal instabilities in the atmosphere that give rise to storms.

Here is a stop animation showing Mars' largest moon Phobos captured as a black little speck moving over the Martian disk. Awesome!