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Vacations to Mars and Pacific Science Center

I’ll bet most of you reading this post are dropping by because you want to visit Mars. (What? You don’t know that Expedia is selling vacation packages to Mars [1]? Well, you really should go book your seat RIGHT NOW before they sell out.)

The funniest thing happened to me earlier this month, I got an e-mail from my friend Corinne Cooley with five extremely detailed questions about Mars. I did my best to help her out, and it turns out she was one of the masterminds behind arranging those vacation packages, and got me that nice link at the bottom of Expedia’s Flights to Mars [1] page.

I’ve had to keep my answers under wraps until today (you wouldn’t want all the seats to be sold before they’ve even announced they’re selling them, would you?) but finally, here they are.

Question(s) One: Would star-gazing on Mars be as good as I think it would? The atmosphere is a lot thinner. On the other hand I know it can be very dusty. What are your thoughts for on average, and in best conditions? If dust can’t be up to have good gazing, are there any regions on Mars that are significantly less prone to dust storms, or significantly less impacted in a ‘visibility through atmosphere’ sense?

Impacts on Stargazing:

Quote from Dr. Tony Phillips: “Because the martian atmosphere is thin–about 1% as dense as Earth’s at sea level–only the smallest dust grains hang in the air. “Airborne dust on Mars is about as fine as cigarette smoke,” says Bell. These fine grains reflect 20% to 25% of the sunlight that hits them; that’s why the clouds look bright. (For comparison, the reflectivity of typical martian terrain is 10% to 15%.)”

P.S. You’ll have a different North Star, but all the constellations will be the same

See the Moons of Mars for yourself! (from NASA) [3]

Stargazing from Mars - those are the two moons going by. (from NASA)

Question(s) Two: I’m interested in the concept of Martian tourism. Imagine a lightly developed Mars – you can get up there, there are multiple places you can go to and there’s support for people to stay there, but it’s not all the way ‘tamed’ by any means. What would be the coolest things to do? Of course you have less gravity, extra minutes in the day, and the biggest mountain and canyon in the solar system. Anything jump to mind beyond the obvious?

Question(s) Three: Mars humor. Are there any really great/terrible Mars specific jokes that you are aware of? Or even farther out, general astronomy humor? I’m looking for humor that would be mildly accessible to a layperson but thrilling to a geek.

I don’t have ANYTHING really. My favorite is that HP ad that was on TV where the Martians are printing out the Panorama just as fast as Pathfinder can take the pictures.

Classic, can be used for the Moon too:

Person1: Hey, I went to Mars the other day

Person2: Wow! Cool! How was it?

Person1: Meh, there wasn’t much atmosphere ….

A “bad” collection. [5]

Question(s) Four: Any super super cool recent Mars happenings? Any really interesting current mysteries that would be fun to speculate on? (I heard there’s methane emissions going on up there, indicating either geologic or biologic activity…)

Question(s) Five: I’ve seen Yahoo is doing a Mars weather forecast. I need to do more digging myself but do you know anything about where this kind of data might be publicly accessible? (RSS feed would be the BEST.)

Alice Enevoldsen

~ A l i c e !

Where’d I Get My Info?

Stargazing [16] and Dust [17] on Mars

This was the original intro to this post. It doesn’t make sense now that Expedia’s not pushing their April Fools site as heavily. (Changed 4/2/2009)

Hello! Welcome newcomers, to Alice’s AstroInfo!

If you’ve gotten this far you probably want to know more about me. The best way would be to click over [18] and visit my place of employment:

Pacific Science Center [19]

It’s an awesome interactive science museum in Seattle, Washington (USA) and if you visit their website, you could help show them that my little blog and I are a force to be reckoned with!