Mars set for closest approach since 2003

Artists' impression: Mars Express probing the planet's surface. During an opposition, a planet is fully lit by the Sun as seen from Earth, and it also marks the time when the planet is closest to Earth, allowing astronomers to see features on the planet's surface in greater detail.

Mars will actually be at its closest approach since 2003 on Monday and Tuesday, when it is 35.78 million miles away.

The red planet and the sun will be on exact opposite sides of Earth. The observatory telescope offers the viewer a chance to transform that red dot in the sky into another world.

The closest approach of Saturn with Earth was on June 27, Mars will approach closer on Friday, July 27.

The discovery of life in a subglacial lake on Mars would have enormous significance for our understanding of the prevalence of life in our Solar System. Friday night, Castle Craig in Meriden is hosting what is ostensibly a full moon viewing (yeah, there's a full moon too), but at almost 1,000 feet above sea level it's sure to provide a great look at the red planet as well.

"If you want a close-up view of the moon as it turns red, a pair of binoculars is helpful", the Royal Astronomical Society said. The new aquifer under South Pole points to similar subsurface lakes on Mars and now the competition to detect the same would grow.

"What gives? Let's see the programme for going to Mars and see where all this other fits in".

The search for life on Mars-and the quest to send humans to Mars-just got one step closer.

This time, ISA has taken a groundbreaking step by discovering liquid water on Mars for the first time in history, probably. This was the closest the two planets had come to each other in nearly 60,000 years, and this record will not be broken until August 28, 2287.

As it lines up with the Earth and sun, the rising full moon will darken and change from silver to rusty or even awful blood-red.

That said, current NASA policies are focused more on the moon than Mars, so it's not clear when a manned mission might happen.

The persistent storm has lasted for more than four months, which has caused trouble for the solar-powered Mars Opportunity rover.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of global cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency).

NASA officials have said as recently as this year they are trying to craft a deep space programme with far less, using only inflation-based increases in the budget.

  • Carolyn Briggs