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Tech & Science The Moon Will Make Mars Disappear Next Week

02:50  15 february  2020
02:50  15 february  2020 Source:   mentalfloss.com

NASA's trip to Mars begins in California 'clean room'

  NASA's trip to Mars begins in California 'clean room' NASA's Mars 2020 rover will head off for the Red Planet next year. But like Voyager, Galileo and Cassini before it, the mission's epic journey began in a "clean room" in California.One of two ultra-sterile labs used for spacecraft assembly at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, the eggshell-white room was briefly and exceptionally opened to journalists Friday.

Next week , however, residents of North America can look up to see what’s called a lunar occultation in action. If you can’t help but hit the snooze button, you can skip the disappearing act (also called immersion) and wait for Mars to reappear on the other side of the moon (called emersion).

A full moon is on average 14,000 times brighter than the next brightest night-sky object, Venus. If the moon disappeared , Earth's axis would wobble between anywhere from 10 to 45º. Some experts estimate that Jupiter could help keep Earth's tilt from reeling completely out of control.

a star in the dark © Pitris/iStock via Getty Images

On Tuesday, February 18, the moon will float right in front of Mars, completely obscuring it from view.

The moon covers Mars relatively often—according to Sky & Telescope, it will happen five times this year alone—but we don’t always get to see it from Earth. Next week, however, residents of North America can look up to see what’s called a lunar occultation in action. The moon's orbit will bring it between Earth and Mars, allowing the moon to "swallow" the Red Planet over the course of 14 seconds. Mars will stay hidden for just under 90 minutes, and then reemerge from behind the moon.

NASA Curiosity rover suffers technical glitch on Mars, loses orientation

  NASA Curiosity rover suffers technical glitch on Mars, loses orientation NASA's only working Mars rover has an attitude problem."Partway through its last set of activities, Curiosity lost its orientation," wrote Curiosity team member Dawn Sumner, a planetary geologist at University of California, Davis, in a mission update this week.

The moon will momentarily block Venus, then Mars and then Mercury, offering a vivid reminder of the cosmic clockwork of our solar system. Early this week , the moon momentarily obscured a sequence of three planets in what is known as a lunar occultation.Credit Sergey Dolzhenko/European

The last humans to visit the moon left the lunar surface in Apollo 17 at 5:55pm EST on Dec 14th 1972, since then no humans have been further than low earth orbit missions and to The question is now, where shall we go next , do we make Mars the next great step forward or do we go back to the moon .

Depending on where you live, you might have to set your alarm quite a bit earlier than you usually do in order to catch the show. In general, people in eastern parts of the country will see Mars disappear a little later; in Phoenix, for example, it’ll happen at 4:37:27 a.m., Chicagoans can watch it at 6:07:10 a.m., and New Yorkers might even already be awake when the moon swallows Mars at 7:36:37 a.m.

If you can’t help but hit the snooze button, you can skip the disappearing act (also called immersion) and wait for Mars to reappear on the other side of the moon (called emersion). Emersion times vary based on location, too, but they’re around an hour and a half later than immersion times on average. You can check the specific times for hundreds of cities across the country here [PDF].

Since it takes only 14 seconds for Mars to fully vanish (or reemerge), punctuality is a necessity—and so is optical aid. Mars won’t be bright enough for you to see it with your naked eye, so Sky & Telescope recommends looking skyward through binoculars or a telescope.

Thinking of holding an early-morning viewing party on Tuesday? Here are 10 riveting facts about Mars that you can use to impress your guests.

[h/t Sky & Telescope]

NASA is going to bring pieces of Mars back to Earth .
NASA's Mars 2020 mission is definitely going to be one for the record books. However, one of the most exciting things that the Mars 2020 rover will be doing during its mission won’t actually bear fruit, so to speak, until much later. The rover will be collecting samples of the martian soil that NASA will eventually bring back to Earth to study in person, and that’s going to be truly incredible.

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