Which Way is Mecca from Mars?

Which Way is Mecca from Mars? July 21, 2019

Mars has been in the news again a lot over the past year, as humanity’s robot explorer “Opportunity” was declared not merely defunct but “dead.” Meanwhile, the rover named “Curiosity” checked in before moving on from its current location. Puffs of gas that hints at the possibility of life, and the discovery of more water, have kept us intrigued.

In some future short story or novel set on Mars, it would be interesting to explore how Muslims who find themselves on the Red Planet pray. I have been working on a couple of science fiction stories recently, and one of them involves Mars. But I won’t be including the question of which direction Muslims face when praying on Mars in this particular story, since that isn’t its focus, and introducing that element would be gratuitous. If I ever expand the story towards a novel, then who knows. And I might reconsider this, since I probably could work this in if I really tried. I’ll have to decide whether the discussion of religion that is already part of the story is sufficient.

Of related interest:

Is there prayer on Mars?

Shifting sands on Mars

The UAE’s Mars plans made the news. I can’t tell whether this meme about that is satire or serious:

Mars One Ventures went bankrupt

Mark Carver asked whether humans will take God with them as we expand to living on other planets

A one way trip to Mars turns out not to be a great business model

You can now check the weather on Mars each day. I don’t know if that includes dust storms.

We went from merely seeing signs of past water and asking where it went, to being amazed how much water has been discovered (in the form of a massive amount of ice)

A simulated Mars mission in the Chilean desert

Finding clay, chaos, and fettuccine on Mars, as well as signs of past rivers

Several outlets reported on methane spikes, which hints at the possibility of life in the present, although past life continues to be more probable.

Terraforming for those who don’t want to live on this planet any more

Looking for life via fettuccine

A strange mineral deposit

Lost on Mars

Documentary about Total Recall

Silica aerogel may help us grow plants on Mars

A creeping robot that may be useful for exploring other worlds

Scientists remember Opportunity

Mars can play a role in cinematic storytelling about climate change

In case you wondered what Mars rovers sound like

NASA’s next 50 years

What do you consider the most interesting Mars news of late? What kinds of science fiction stories involving Mars have you enjoyed, or have you never come across but think ought to be written?

More generally about pushing the boundaries of space exploration was a Skeptic podcast. Here’s a bit of the blurb about it:

Zubrin shows how projects that sound like science fiction can actually become reality. But beyond the how, he makes an even more compelling case for why we need to do this—to increase our knowledge of the universe, to make unforeseen discoveries on new frontiers, to harness the natural resources of other planets, to safeguard Earth from stray asteroids, to ensure the future of humanity by expanding beyond its home base, and to protect us from being catastrophically set against each other by the false belief that there isn’t enough for all.

There was also a video visualizing humanity spreading through the galaxy, and news about the effect of radiation on astronauts.

Finally, given the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, let me also share a few links related to the moon here, lest our planet’s natural satellite feel left out…

Pre-modern lunar and space exploration

Bishops and astronauts gather in Washington to remember Apollo 8

Fifty Years Later… The Many Meanings of Apollo 11

Man and the Moon

Moon Landing: Big perspective, big questions

See also how moon landing conspiracies spread prior to the interneta piece that connects the moon with canon, and an article in Physics Today.

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  • hummussexual

    I would imagine the same issue may have already been addressed when it comes to muslim astronauts, of which there have been a couple. I am unaware of the solution, however.

  • Gary

    Just seat of the pants, but identifying the direction of Earth from Mars, since the planets are within the same plane, should just be a matter of triangulating the angle left or right from the sun, using the following:

    Of course, once a problem is identified, some software type will simply develop an App for their iPhone to tell the angle from the sun. If they are praying at night, that might present another problem. But I’m sure the software people will figure a work-around. They always do. Plus, accuracy (direction you are facing), isn’t exactly a major consideration on earth even, since the direction is on a sphere, toward a location sometimes on the opposite side of the sphere, with an angle accuracy not better than your eyeball directional accuracy. Which is what? Maybe 20 degrees. The least of their problems on Mars.