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800Whrs+ Staying Up Late ideas
djellison
post Jun 6 2009, 07:04 AM
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With Spirit producing an annoyingly large amount of power given her current predicament, the time may well have come to re-open the Gusev astronomy society. Anyone have any dusk / nightime observation ideas?
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Astro0
post Jun 6 2009, 07:20 AM
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Thinking ahead...
- A low sun angle view of the road ahead towards vonBraun.
There might be some interesting detail to observe with single- and multi-filter observations.
- A second Gusev Sunset image would be nice (I don't think Tsiolkovsky is in the way).
Just a cool image to take.
- Long shadow view back towards Husband Hill in multi-filters.
Just to make up for the version UMSF worked on in what seems like years ago (hey it was!)
- Phobos / star occultation
- MGS star-trail? It's gotta be somewhere!
- MODY / MEX star-trail? Just to be cool.
- Pancam view of an Earth / star occultation (would it be possible?)

I've got no idea what the MERs capabilities are as an observatory, but these are my two cents worth.
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James Sorenson
post Jun 6 2009, 08:40 AM
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I'm not sure if this would work, and is probably very remote, but what would be cool is to try and capture images of the localized UV aurora's that MEX detected. Does anyone know if Pancam could be sensitive or be even able to detect these? would long exposures with L7 work or would there be to much noise and CR hits?
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climber
post Jun 6 2009, 09:37 AM
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From my place (here on Earth) I'm able, with dark skies, to see the Zodiacal light. I wonder if Sprit can try this. I don't think she need a too long exposure.
As the pannels are clean, try to get some star reflexions. Could this help for tau detection?
MI image underneath at sun set.


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Stu
post Jun 6 2009, 10:01 AM
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QUOTE (Astro0 @ Jun 6 2009, 08:20 AM) *
- Pancam view of an Earth / star occultation (would it be possible?)


If my STARRY NIGHT is set up right, then Earth is in the sunset sky at the moment, very close to Venus, with Mercury beneath them...

Attached Image


Good photo op? I haven't got time right now to do a mock-up of what the view would look like, but I'm sure it would look beautiful.

I second all Astro0's suggestions, especially the "long shadows" shots, just because they'd be beautiful pictures... smile.gif


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akuo
post Jun 6 2009, 10:38 AM
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An extended sunset movie would be nice with colour filters. So long preferably that the twin evening planets would appear and maybe the brightest stars.


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ngunn
post Jun 6 2009, 11:28 AM
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I'd like them to scan the dark sky at each end of the night to look for very high level 'noctilucent' clouds, or indeed any clouds that may be around by night but not by day.
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Stu
post Jun 6 2009, 12:36 PM
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Just for fun... this is inaccurate in countless (tho I'm sure someone will count them! laugh.gif ) ways, just a pretty picture... I'd love to see the view, that's all...

Attached Image


Colour version here http://stugallery.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/sunset1e-s.jpg


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Tesheiner
post Jun 6 2009, 01:02 PM
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QUOTE (Stu @ Jun 6 2009, 12:01 PM) *
If my STARRY NIGHT is set up right, then Earth is in the sunset sky at the moment, very close to Venus, with Mercury beneath them...
Good photo op? I haven't got time right now to do a mock-up of what the view would look like, but I'm sure it would look beautiful.

I'll second that! Now, if someone could check if the line of sight is clear on that direction...
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SpaceListener
post Jun 6 2009, 04:55 PM
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I have already checked with the http://space.jpl.nasa.gov and it shows that during the Mars sunset will look Venus and Earth very close and Mercury will be a little farther than them. My wish-list is to take many pictures samples during the noon in order to make a movie of Dust Devil.
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nprev
post Jun 6 2009, 05:10 PM
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Still think it would be worth staring at appropriate patches of sky an hour or two after/before sunset/sunrise every sol for a few weeks in a row to try to recover any of the defunct orbiters. Should be able to find them, & then identify them by their inclinations (which shouldn't have changed much if at all over the years).

What almost certainly did change for all of them is their orbital radii & therefore their periods, and most of this would be due to times of increased atmospheric drag. This is an aspect of the LMO environment that hasn't been studied over a prolonged span. Mariner 9, the Vikings, and the 70s Soviet Mars orbiters could provide some interesting data in this regard, which in turn could lead to better modeling of the thermal response of Mars' upper atmosphere to solar effects, albedo changes due to dust storms, etc.





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fredk
post Jun 6 2009, 06:03 PM
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I agree that recovering an orbiter would be very important, but check this post.

In terms of imaging Venus-Earth, does your planetarium software tell you their elongation from the Sun? That's the big question, since it determines how bright the sky will be when they're up.

In terms of UV aurora, L7/R1 transmit almost nothing below 400 nm, so those auroras would have to extend into the visible.

I agree low sun angle shots would be great to have, revealing a lot about topography (and looking spectacular too). And low sun movies even more so.

Zodiacal light would be great too, but probably hard. If I recall right, the sky stays bright very long after sunset due to all the dust in the air. But then we could characterize precisely how long the sunset glow is visible by taking a long time series until it's completely dark. That would tell us something about dust high in the air, presumably. Another factor in this is the currently low tau, which would help nighttime observations generally.

Finally, in the almost-certainly-of-no-scientific-value-but-extremely-cool category, I would love to see a 4x1 navcan panorama time series, extending from Grissom Hill to Husband Hill, and starting just after dark in the early morning and running every 10 minutes or so until a while after sunrise. Imagine the first glimmer of the morning Sun on Grissom, and then eventually the shadows of the Columbia Hills receeding towards us from across the plains, and finally the sunlight striking Tsiolkovsky and West Valley.
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nprev
post Jun 6 2009, 07:36 PM
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QUOTE (fredk @ Jun 6 2009, 11:03 AM) *
I agree that recovering an orbiter would be very important, but check this post.


Oh, yeah; I remember. Given that we have a such a surfeit of power & a fixed locale for now, though, it seems like one of the most (potentially) scientifically productive options for evening operations. Definitely a very long shot, of course.

One question for anyone who might know: What would be the eclipse durations for any of the defunct orbiters at their last known 'altitudes'? It's just past equinox, and I'm trying to figure out in my head what (if any) the effects would be on spacecraft illumination vs. local astronomical twilight for Spirit; suspect that it's minimal due to her tropical latitude.


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Deimos
post Jun 6 2009, 07:44 PM
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Keep the ideas coming. Not surprisingly, many of these are being considered. I'll keep some of my own quiet for now wink.gif. The weekend plan does contain the beginning of a twilight characterization, with a 20-pair movie starting in the moments before sunset. It won't continue until Venus and Earth are in the frame, but a later instance should get this. These will be similar to the Pathfinder pre-dawn cloud images in some ways, but the filters are chosen for ability to constrain interesting parameters rather than for pretty pictures (although the latter may be doable for those so inclined). Earth will be iffy, Venus should be fine, Mercury-no. Earth, Venus and Jupiter have all been imaged before, of course, and always in the twilight.
http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/mars_earth_040311.html
http://pancam.astro.cornell.edu/pancam_ins...projects_3.html

Spirit needs to use energy at night to avoid overheating when using (even shunting) the same energy during the day and to keep getting good battery data. So there is a reason for a specific night focus (not that noon dust devil movies are a bad thing). The parameters are not clear (to me), and there will be some exploratory stuff (heating tests...). But last time we did this, we were limited to 20-30 minute chunks most of the time. It is time dependent, but the rovers can use energy quickly when active at night.

Zodiacal light is a no-go. There will not be dedicated orbiter imaging (I expect), but preliminary plans for "nighttime opacity" imaging make it multi-purpose, with one consideration being to maximize utility in the event of a serendipitous detection. But since we missed ODY's trail when we know where ODY was, I'm not optimistic. The UV aurora idea is also a no-go, but there are other similar if still unlikely possibilities.

I imagine things with more compelling science rationale will be done first, but other factors may influence the timing (some times of night are more accessible than others). I've scoped out a sunset mosaic, but am not planning to push it just yet. It won't beat the 489 mosaic in artistic merit. If you look at the Calypso pan in the "unstuck" thread and work left from Husband Hill to the first rock that juts up, sunset should be a be less than a frame left of there (from memory, not my notes).

Oh, and we just missed a real good near-occultation of a bright star by Phobos (Phobos moves too fast to really show an occultation with Pancam).
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Stu
post Jun 6 2009, 07:59 PM
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Some number crunching on the Earth image... hopefully it won't be too "iffy"!

Ok, so at sunset Earth will be 28 degrees away from the Sun...

Attached Image


Earth will set approx 2 hours later...

Attached Image


(just wondering why Earth should be iffy..? It's not going to be an awful lot fainter than Venus..?)

Using an old version of STARRY NIGHT here so please, no scolding if this isn't 1000% accurate... smile.gif


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