Mars making closest approach to Earth in 15 years

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But new research backed by NASA finds that even nuking the Red Planet won't be enough to convert it into another Earth.

Mars got closest to the Earth in 2003 approximately 60,000 years after its previous approach.

The local stargazers are invited for a camp to witness the Red Planet from 7 pm to 10 pm tonight at the Colombo Campus grounds.

On Friday, Mars, Earth and the sun were lined up in the sky.

For instance, back in early 2017 researchers examined data that was collected from the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) program and noted then also that there wasn't enough Carbon dioxide in the red planet's atmosphere. Accordingly, both planets were the closest 15 years ago, in 2003, with only 56 million kilometers in between. Furthermore, if mankind somehow invented a way to squeeze the Carbon dioxide from all the material on Mars (that's essentially impossible), it would only boost the atmosphere to around 6.9 percent of Earth's.

The distance between Earth and Mars changes throughout the year due to their elliptical shaped paths. It will be 56.9 million kilometers away. A close encounter with Earth like this won't happen again until the year 2287.

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There's also a hexagonal pattern visible around the planet's north pole, which is a stable wind feature that was discovered way back in 1981.

Although now gas shell of Mars consists mainly of carbon dioxide, it is too thin, on the surface of the planet could exist with liquid water.

The planet will remain bright for several weeks, and you can also view the planets Saturn, Jupiter and Venus in a "long arc across the sky from east to west" shortly after sunset.

Mars can easily be seen with the naked eye in the evening time. Mars will still be easy to spot and just as bright for several weeks into August.

According to observatory officials, at the moment of closest approach, Mars will be at its very best position for viewing through a telescope from Los Angeles as it crosses the meridian and appears highest in the southern sky. NASA is in no mood for that: "The message is that Mars will look as big as the moon in our night sky".

There are observational camps conducted by astronomers all over the world to observe this rare event.

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