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Week 1

Additional readings

Mars is a popular object of study and fascination these days, so there are copious sources out there in which you can read more details.Lecture 1.01: Early views of Mars

  • You can get sky maps to help you find the planets at
  • Wikipedia has a nice article on the history of Mars observations. Wikipedia, in general, should always be used with caution. Articles that we link here, however, have been found to be generally reliable.

Lecture 1.02: Mars has canals!

  • The Wikipedia article from Lecture 1.01 continues to be useful here.
  • Percival Lowell's full book, Mars, is a fascinating read, as is, of course, Mars and its Canals

Lecture 1.03: Taking the temperature of Mars

Lecture 1.04: Mars DOES have water (in the atmosphere)

  • If you need to review the Doppler effect, this is a good place to start, and Wikipedia goes into the math.
  • You should definitely take a look at the original Spinrad, Munch, and Kaplan paper from 1963, as well as some of their follow-up papers, such as this, and, in particular, this one, where they start to see clear variations pointing to interactions with the polar caps.

Lecture 1.05: Heating and composition of the polar caps

  • Several critical points are brought up in this lecture. First is that of thermal equilibrium with incoming solar radiation. A good basic review can found in here, and a very nice complete treatment, including further review of albedos, blackbodies, and solar input, can be found here.
  • The critical Leighton and Murray paper was published in Science in 1966 and is still not free to view without a subscription. You could chose to pay $20 for it, but that is egregious, particularly for research that was supported by public funds. We will encounter this problem frequently in this class. Modern papers tend to be more accessible, as these issues are now better recognized, but papers published in the past few decades can be the hardest to find. Here are some steps to find these papers: (1) go to a university library and read the actual journal article (if the library even carries it anymore!); (2) go to a university library and download the paper from there, as they likely have a subscription; (3) use something like Google scholar to search online to see if perhaps versions are available, for example, like this. (4) Write to a friend who is at a university and see if they will send you a PDF copy for your personal use.
  • Understanding vapor pressure is extremely important. This Wikipedia article goes into much more detail than you will need, but the intro is good. The Khan academy lecture on vapor pressure is quite good. That is, if you like watching video lectures...

Lecture 1.06: Let's fly to Mars

  • Almost all interplanetary spaceflight makes use of the Hohmann transfer, which is what the lecture describes. More details are here.

Lecture 1.08: The first missions to Mars

Lecture 1.08: Water on earth

  • As an example of when NOT to use Wikipedia, I point you to their article on the origin of terrestrial water, which is pretty terrible, including mistakes, incompletenesses, and incomprehensibilities. I do not mean to pick on Wikipedia here -- as you see I have linked many excellent articles -- but I mean to remind you that Wikipedia contains good as well as bad information and should not be treated as authoritative even if they always come up as the top result or so in a Google search. We'll keep pointing to the good articles, though.
  • A nice review of terrestrial and Martian water is here. It begins with a general introduction and goes into more technical details.

Lecture 1.09: Mariner 9 -- Mars had FLOWING water

Lecture 1.10: Viking and the start of modern Martian science

  • NASA has a detailed page where you can get information on Viking and access all of the available data
  • Wikipedia is also pretty good on Viking