G’day, Mars enthusiasts!
How do you make the journey from doing robotics competitions in high school to working at Houston’s Mission Control? Well, we just so happen to know someone who’s done exactly that!
“Meet an Expert” series
We’ve had some great “Meet an Expert” chats this spring, with another one coming up this week! Hope you’ll be able to join us, because this is going to be exciting….
“Meet an Expert” — Ben Honey from Mission Control
What’s it like to work in Mission Control at Johnson Space Center? Ben Honey is joining us on Zoom to tell us all about it! “Ben has always loved space exploration, but his first love was astronomy and planetary science. He changed focus to engineering after joining the FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) club in high school.”
“Meet an Expert” — Series archives
If you’ve missed any of our previous chats, you can access them anytime on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1mqPwuC2YI&list=PL1p2GTGjWAoh7yFlgWCJS31Y4-OK9rd8T
The NASA team at Kennedy Space Center continues to progress on preparing the Perseverance rover for its mission to the Red Planet. Mars and the Earth are in alignment for space travel only every few years, so this July’s launch is an important window that can’t be missed.
You can follow along with the rover’s preparations on NASA’s Mars2020 blog:
Where’s Mars in the sky?
Can you see Mars in the sky right now? Well, maybe if you’re an early bird (or a night owl who’s up very, very late). Here’s an excerpt from Sky & Telescope’s “Sky at a Glance” says for May 8–16:
Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn shine in the southeast to south before and during early dawn. Jupiter, the brightest, is on the right. Before dawn begins, spot the Sagittarius Teapot to the right of it. Saturn glows pale yellow to Jupiter’s left. Mars is much farther to Saturn’s left or lower left. In a telescope Mars is no longer a tiny blob but a little gibbous disk. Mars is on its way to an excellent opposition in early October.
Opposition, in astronomy terms, is when Mars will be on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun. We see the moon in an approximate opposition every month during full moon. When the moon is in a more exact opposition with the Earth and sun, we have a lunar eclipse.
Mars, of course, is much too far away to be eclipsed by the Earth’s shadow, but its opposition in October will be an excellent opportunity to view the planet in the night sky.
ROADS on Mars Student Challenge update
The ROADS on Mars Student Challenge remains on hold for the time being. But we are excited to (finally) be announcing some of the prize-winning mini-challenge teams! The first wave of top teams for the Landscape Morphology mini-challenge are up on our website: https://nwessp.org/2020/05/roads-on-mars-mini-challenge-winners-landscape-morphology-part-1/ More mini-challenge top teams will be announced in the coming weeks!
ROADS Freestyle Challenge update
Freestyle teams, don’t forget that your submissions are due by Monday, May 18! The submission form is live on our website: https://nwessp.org/programs/pages/challenges/current/mars-freestyle/submit/
Stay safe! Keep your rovers at the ready. And above all — have FUN.