Published: Wed, August 01, 2018
Science | By Clint Wade

Mars closest to earth in 15 years today

Mars closest to earth in 15 years today

But also, "around the time of opposition, a planet is at its closest distance to Earth for a given year", the U.S. space agency explained.

That's because Earth's orbit around the sun is 365 days, but it takes Mars 687 days to take a lap around our star.

The two stellar bodies will not meet again this close for another 17 years. Mars will both be brighter and appear bigger than it has since 2003, when it was 34.6 million miles (55.7 million kilometers) away.

Stunning pictures of Mars and Saturn taken as the two planets were making their closest approach to Earth this year have been released. During opposition, a planet will appear larger than usual, and its brightest colours are visible. This is due to the fact that the rocks and polar caps of the red planet contain little carbon dioxide required to create a dense and warm atmosphere. Thanks to NASA, we know that this kind of event, when the two planets are as close as now, will not happen again before 2287, therefore we simply can not miss it.

Astronomers around the world trained their telescopes on the sky on July 31, when the Red Planet was 35.8 million miles (57.6 million kilometers) away.

This phenomenon is expected to occur next in 2034.

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NASA has captured many images of the planet-wide dust storm that has been affecting Mars since June this year. Normally Mars is the only planet in our solar system that you can see the surface of though a telescope, but that's not going happen as experts are forecasting this dust storm is bound to continue for maybe the next several months.

This doesn't necessarily mean that the dream of living on Mars is dead, but it does suggest that the Red Planet's most important industry could be selling and maintaining reliable spacesuits.

If weather is bad where you are, NASA will be streaming live from the Griffith Observatory.

The embedded live stream above kicked off at 10pm PT on the night of Monday, July 30, and ended this morning at 2am PT. The broadcast will continue till 4pm EST (1.30am IST on August 1).

But just in case you miss Mars Close Approach this year, the next one is scheduled to take place on October 6, 2020.

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