Astronomy Ch. 10 – Mars

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Why was the summer of 2003 a fine time for Mars observers?

Mars was closer to us than it has been in over 50,000 years.

Mars is best viewed from Earth when it is at

opposition.

What makes the view of Mars in the summer of 2003 so spectacular?

Mars was both at perihelion and opposition, creating the perfect viewing conditions from Earth.

Why does Mars appear fainter than Venus, as seen from Earth?

because it is smaller, farther away and less reflective

What physical feature of Mars are atypical compared with the other terrestrial planets?

its density

Which is the correct size order, from smallest to largest?

Mercury, Mars, Venus

How long is a day on Mars?

24 hours, 36 minutes

How does the axial tilt of Mars compare with our own?

It is almost identical to the Earth.

Unlike Earth, Mars’ seasons are affected (enhanced and diminished) by the distance between Mars and the Sun. This is because

the orbit of Mars is significantly more elliptical.

Where do the names for the moons of Mars (Phobos and Deimos) come from?

the sons of Ares and Aphrodite

Why are Mars’ seasons more extreme than those of the earth?

Mars’ weather is driven by evaporation from the polar ice in its summer. Mars’ orbit is more eccentric than our almost circular one. Mars’ seas dried up long ago. Mars’ axial tilt is slightly more than our 23.5 degrees. All of these contribute to the huge barometric changes that Mars experiences.

The most prominent feature of Mars observable from Earth is

its bright polar caps.

What causes the changing dark and light features visible on the Martian surface from Earth?

highly cratered and eroded areas that are frequently covered and uncovered by dust

Most of the dark regions on Mars visible from Earth are

volcanic planes like the lunar maria.

The difference between the Grand Canyon and the Valles Marineris is

the Valles Marineris has craters in and around it. the Grand Canyon was formed by water. the Valles Marineris has tectonic features surrounding it. the Valles Marineris is much larger than the Grand Canyon. all of the above

Which of these were observed from Earth, prior to spacecraft missions to Mars?

dust storms capable of covering the entire planet seasonal changes in the polar caps Both A and C are correct.

The deepest depression found on the surface of Mars is the

Hellas Basin of Mars.

Valles Marineris is the most striking example of a(n)

rift valley.

The most striking valley in the solar system is:

Valles Marineris on Mars.

The largest shield volcano yet discovered is:

Olympus Mons on Mars.

Why is the southern hemisphere of Mars believed to be older than the northern?

The southern hemisphere is more heavily cratered.

Olympus Mons and Maxwell Mons are both

shield volcanoes.

The NASA missions that landed on Mars in 1976 were the

Vikings I and II.

What property of Mars is responsible for producing the great heights of its volcanos?

Its thick crust can support larger peaks, and lower surface gravity does not pull them down as much as on Earth.

Which of the following characterizes a shield volcano?

It sits above a hot spot in the planet’s mantle.

Which of these is not now on the surface of Mars?

Mars Global Surveyor

The first successful landers on the surface of Mars were:

Vikings 1 and 2 in 1976.

The NASA lander which deployed the first rover, Sojourner, in 1997 was:

Pathfinder.

The largest difference between Mars’ northern and southern hemispheres is that:

the southern appears older, with more impact craters.

The Tharsis Bulge on Mars is roughly the size of

North America

What is thought to be the reason that there are no small impact craters on Mars?

The wind blows small dust particles, eroding the surface of Mars, erasing small impact craters faster than they can form.

The largest and deepest impact basin found on Mars is:

Hellas.

That the Tharsis region on Mars has so few craters

suggests it is the youngest region on the planet.

The outflow channels on Mars indicate a flood period in the history of Mars. During this time, based on the width and depth of the remaining riverbed, it is thought that the flow rate must have been

enormous, as much as 100 times the flow rate of the Amazon River.

If water caused the huge outflow channels on Mars, what was the most likely process that formed them?

catastrophic but rare flooding

Evidence of liquid water in Mars’ distant past suggests that it had a substantial atmosphere compared to what it has presently. What happened to its water vapor?

The atmosphere has frozen out into the polar ice caps and permafrost as Mars has cooled.

Why is Mars red?

The iron in the surface rocks have been oxidized over time.

One piece of evidence against the possibility of water on Mars is

the few carbonate rock layers that would have formed on the bottoms of oceans.

Evidence for a permafrost layer of ice just a few meters below the surface of Mars include

"fluidized ejecta" craters.

Is there evidence of life on Mars?

We have confusing and uncertain results to date.

The main constituent of the Martian atmosphere is

carbon dioxide.

Venus and Mars probably evolved differently from Earth because:

they orbit at different distances from the Sun.

One of the most unexpected aspects of Mars’ atmosphere is

that its troposphere changes altitude.

Compare the atmospheres of Mars and Venus.

Both are chiefly carbon dioxide, but at Mars it can freeze as dry ice.

The seasonal changes on Mars create:

great changes in the barometric pressure as the atmosphere freezes and sublimes. remarkable changes in size of the two dry ice polar caps. huge dust storms that can enshroud the planet’s disk. changes in the dark features noted from Earth by telescopes long ago. All of these are correct.

Rank these magnetic fields, from weakest to strongest.

Venus, Mars, Mercury, Earth

Mars’ magnetic field is so weak because

its core contains less iron than our own. it core may no longer be molten. Both B and C are probable.

How many moons does Mars have?

two

Which statement about Mars’ two moons is FALSE?

Both are in retrograde orbits.

What piece of evidence suggests that the martian moons did not form with Mars?

Their composition is significantly different from Mars and the terrestrial planets.

(SA) What is the evidence that suggests the past and present existence of surface water on Mars?

Runoff channels from old rivers and outflow channels from catastrophic flooding in the distant past. Recent mudflows down the sides of some canyons and crater walls suggest occasional eruptions of liquid water persist to this day, as imaged by the Global Surveyor. The Rovers in 2004 also found clear evidence of sedimentary rocks formed under water at both the landing sites, on opposite sides of the globe.

(SA) How can Mars, a planet with so little atmosphere, have so much wind?

The major component of Mars’ atmosphere, carbon dioxide, freezes out as dry ice every winter, forming a huge but very thin polar cap. But in the opposite hemisphere, that cap is subliming back into the atmosphere, creating a high pressure area above it. With the changing seasons, the atmosphere "flip-flops" from pole to pole, with great barometric pressure changes and hurricane force winds and dust storms observable from earth.

(SA) Compare the days, seasons, and years of Mars and Earth.

The lengths of the days are very similar, with Mars being 40 minutes longer. The axial tilts are also almost identical, with Mars tilted only .5 degrees more. The year, with Mars’ much larger orbit, is over twice as long as ours, however.

(SA) Why do oppositions of Mars stir such interest among amateur astronomers?

Mars is small, and most of the time so distant from Earth that amateur telescopes have a problem seeing anything but an orange disk. But when the earth overtakes Mars every 2.2 years, Mars gets close enough to us to appear much larger and to show a good deal of surface features and atmospheric clouds, polar caps, and dust storms.

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