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MARS


from us, while the southern hemisphere is best seen near perihelion oppositions. The distances 'of the planet from the sun at aphelion and at perihelion are nearly in the ratio 6: 5. The intensity of the sun's radiation on the planet is as the inverse square of this ratio. It is therefore more than 40% greater near perihelion than near aphelion. It follows from all this that the southern hemisphere is subjected to a more intense solar heat than the northern, and must therefore a warmer summer season. But the length of the seasons is the inverse of this, the summer of the northern hemisphere being longer and the heat of the southern hemisphere shorter in proportion.-Surface

Features.-The surface features of the planet will be better understood by first considering what is known of its atmosphere and of the temperature which probably prevails on its surface. One method of detecting an atmosphere is through its absorption of the different rays in the spectrum of the sunlight reflected from the planet. Several observers have thought that they saw fairly distinct evidence of such absorption when the planet was examined with the spectroscope. But the observations were not conclusive; and with the view of setting the question at rest if possible, W. W. Campbell at the Lick Observatory instituted a very careful series of spectroscopic observations! To reduce the chances of error to a minimum the spectrum of Mars was compared with that of the moon when the two bodies were near each other. Not the slightest difference could be seen between any of the lines in the two spectra. It being certain that the spectrum of the moon is not affected by absorption, it followed that any absorption produced by the atmosphere of Mars is below the limit of perception. It was considered by Campbell that if the atmosphere of Mars were § that of the earth in density, the absorption would have been

atmosphere of Mars would be of a

the earth?

Closely.related to the question

of possible clouds above the surface of the planet, the existence imply an atmosphere of a

have

visible. Consequently the

density lessthan } that of

of a11 atmosphere is that

of which, if real, would necessarily

density approaching the limit set by Campbell's observations. The most favourable opportunity for seeing clouds would be when they are formed above a region of the planet upon which the sun is about to rise, or from which it has just been setting. The cloud will then be illuminated by the sun's rays whileithe surface below it is in darkness, and will appear to an observer on the earth as a spot of light outside the terminator, or visible edge of the illuminated part of the disk. It is noticeable that phenomena more or less of this character, though by no means common, have been noted by observers on several occasions. Among these have been the Mt Hamilton and Lowell observers, and W. H. Pickering at Arequipa. Campbell has shown that many of them may be accounted for by supposing the presence of mountains not more than two miles in height, which may well exist on the planet. While this hypothesis will serve to explain several of these appearances, this can scarcely be said of a detached spot observed on the evening of the 26th of May 1903, at the Lowell Observatory? Dr Slipher, who first saw it, was so struck by the appearance of the projection from the terminator upon the dark side of the disk that he called the other observers to witness it. Micrometric measures showed that it was some 300 miles in length, and that its highest Astronomy and Astrophysics, iii. 752, and Astron. Soc. of the Pactfc, Publications, vi. 273 and ix. roq. According to Percival Lowell these results were, however, inconclusive because the strong atmospheric lines lie redwards beyond the part of the spectrum then possible to observe. Subsequently, by experimenting with sensitizing dyes, Dr Slipher of the Lowell Observatory succeeded in 1908 in photographing the spectrum far into the red. Comparison spectrogram's of Mars and the Moon, taken by him at equal altitudes on such plates, eight in all, show the “a" band, the great band of water-va our was distinctly stronger in the spectrum of Mars, thus affording what appeared decisive evidence of water vapour in the atmosphere of t e auet.

P

3 Lowell, Mars and its Canals, D. roi.

point stood some 17 miles above- the surface of the planet. That a cloud should be formed at such a height in so rare an atmosphere seems difficult to account for except on the principle that the rate of diminution of the density of an atmosphere with its height is proportional to the intensity of gravity, which is smaller on Mars than on the earth. The colour was not white, but tawny, of the tint exhibited by a cloud of dust. Percival Lowell therefore suggests that this and other appearances of the same kind seen from time to time are probably dust clouds, travelling over the desert, as they sometimes do on the earth, and settling slowly again to the ground. Temperature.-Up to a recent time all that could be said of the probable temperature of Mars was that, being more distant from the sun than the earth, and having a rarer atmosphere, it had a general mean temperature probably below that of the earth. Greater precision can now be 'given to this theoretical conclusion by recent determination of 'the law of radiation of heat by bodies at different temperatures. Regarding it as fairly well established that at ordinary temperatures the radiation varies directly as the fourth power of the absolute temperature, it is possible when the “ solar constant ” is known to compute the temperature of a non-coloured body at the distance of Mars which presents every part of its surface in rapid succession to the sun's rays in the absence of atmosphere only. -This has been elaborately done for the major planets by ]. H. Poynting,4 who computes that the mean temperature of Mars is far below the freezing point of water. On the other hand an investigation made by Lowell in IQ07,5 taking into account the effect of the rare atmosphere on the, heat lost by reflection, and of several other factors in the problem hitherto overlooked, led him to the conclusion that the mean temperature is about 48° Fahr.° But the temperature may rise much above the mean on those regions of the surface exposed to a nearly vertical noon-day sun. The diurnal changes of temperature, being diminished by an atmosphere, must be greater on Mars than on the earth, so that the vicissitudes of temperature are 'there very great, but cannot be exactly determined, because they must depend upon the conductivity and thermal capacity of the matter composing the surface of the planet. What we can say with confidence is that, during the Martian winter of between eight and twelve of our months, the regions around either pole must fall to a temperature nearer the absolute zero than any known on this planet. In fact the climatic conditions in all but the equatorial regions are probably of the same nature as those which prevail on the tops of our highest mountains, except that the cold is more intense?

Having these preliminary considerations in mind, we may now study the features presented to our view by the surface of the planet. These have a permanence and invariability which markedly differentiate them from the ever varying surfaces of Jupiter and Saturn, and show that what we see is a solid surface, like that of our earth. They were observed and delineated by the leading astronomers of the 16th century, especially Huygens, Cassini and Hooke. These observers could only distinguish the different regions upon the planet as bright or dark. Reasoning as they did in the case of the moon, it was naturally supposed that the brighter regions were land and the darker ones seas. The observers of our time find that the darker regions have a slightly blue-green aspect, which might suggest the idea of water, but are variegated in a way to show that they must be composed of a solid crust, like the brighter regions. The 'latter have a decidedly warm red or ochre tint, which gives the characteristic colour to the planet as seen by the naked eye. The regions in equatorial and middle latitudes, which are those best seen from our planet, show a surface of which the general aspect is not dissimilar to that which would be presented by the deserts of our earth 4 Phil. Trans., vol. 202 A, p. 525.

5 Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts and Sciences, vol. xlii. No. 25. ° Professor F. W Very concurs with Lowell (Phil. Mag., 1908). 7 According to Lowell, Athe climatic conditions are' proportionally warm in summer.