LtE in CMO #273

From David R KLASSEN

. . . . . Date: Mon, 02 June 2003 11:52:45 -0400

From: David Klassen <>


Subject: MarsWatch Electronic Newsletter


O-> O-> O-> O-> O-> O-> O-> O-> O-> O-> O-> O-> O-> O-> O-> O->




Volume 6; Issue 1


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(1) Welcome back

(2) Mars Explorer Rovers

(3) Mars Odyssey

(4) Mars Global Surveyor




Hello all Mars observers! This newsletter is to let you all know that the International MarsWatch is up and running. We got the new site going on 31 March 2003 but the mail list took a bit longer due to having to switch systems. I used to run it on my local workstation by hand, but due to policy changes here at Rowan, that had to end. We now have it running automagically via Majordomo, a Perl program that handles the list subscriptions, dead addresses, etc. Getting it set up and my getting familiar with it in the midst of the semester was not an easy task. But here we are. I will be sending out a newsletter monthly, with additions as necessary if things on Mars get "interesting". If anyone has any information they wish to contribute to the newsletter, just e-mail your friendly, neighborhood editor (Dave:


The new website can be found at

(same address as last time; the old site is still around at

and is pretty much in its final form). I usrge all observers to use the ftp site and upload any images they wish to contribute. All the details can be found at the site. I also urge any of the professional astronomers out there who have Mars observing programs to let us know what they are so we can try to get as many coordinated observations as possible. Just drop me a line and I'll put it in the next newsletter and on the site.


Clear Skies!





The next mission to Mars will be the Mars Explorer Rovers (MER), a pair of large rovers that will bounce-land on the Red Planet and be able to drive considerable distances as they explore the Mars landscape. You can read all about the mission, the instrumentation, and schedule at the offical web site .

The current launch dates for the two rovers are 8 June 2003 and 25 June 2003 and you can watch them live via webcast! Just go to for more details.


Right now, the two rovers are known as MER-A and MER-B. NASA held a contest to give the rovers more memorable names; the names have been chosen from entries by more than 9000 students! On June 7 at 12:30 p.m. there will be a special announcement from NASA to introduce the new names and the winning student.




The Mars Odyssey orbiter has been doing a wonderful job mapping Mars. It was launched 7 April 2001, arrived at Mars 24 October 2001 and began the aerobreaking task to put it into its current orbit. It has been working on its primary mapping/science phase since February and will continue until August 2004. There are three major experiments on Mars Odyssey: MARIE (The Martian Radiation Environment Experiment), GRS (The Gamma Ray Spectrometer), and THEMIS (Thermal Emission Imaging System).


MARIE is measuring the local radiation around Mars and you can see their data and results at . This site lets you plot the radiation dose over time.


The GRS is an instrument designed to look for subsurface water on Mars among other elemental abundances. You can read all about the GRS at . One of the biggest discoveries so far with the GRS is the abundance of subsurface ices on Mars. Maps of the ice, and more information on how it is measured is at .


THEMIS is mapping the entire planet in multiple infrared wavelengths. Using nine thermal infrared "colors", the team members will be able to measure the mineralogy of the Martian surface. Aside from this, we are also getting some wonderful, high resolution, images of the planet. You can read all about the instrument at

and the latest images are at .




And just in case you thought it was all over, the Mars Global Surveyor is still going strong! It has complteted over 18,000 mapping orbits, mapped the entire planet at standard resolution, and created a global topography map. Since Mars changes over time, the mission has been extened to continue these efforts. You can see all the latest images

at .


One of the really interesting sights from the MGS camera is a look back home. Late last May, the team pointed the Mars Orbiter Camera at Earth and took several images.


You can see the MGS/MOC images at

This was only the third time such a look home was taken.

The first was by Voyager 1 on Feb. 14, 1990 (see details at the JPL web site at

The second was by Galileo ( ).




Marswatch WWW site ---



David KLASSEN (Dept of Physics & Astronomy, Rowan University, NJ, USA)


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