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Mars is invading Earth!

03 August 2018

When the Sun, Earth and Mars are lined up, with Earth sitting in between, a phenomenon called "opposition" is in effect, giving the brightest view of Mars.

The minimum distance from the Earth to Mars is about 33.9 million miles (54.6 million kilometers) and is rarely achieved.

The record for the closest Mars ever got to Earth was set in 2003, when the red planet was only 34.6 million miles away. The next time the red planet approaches close to Earth will be in September 2035. In 2003, Mars made its closest approach to Earth-34.6 million miles-in almost 60,000 years.

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Another close encounter like 2003's will not happen until the year 2287. 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.

Although Mars reached its closest point in 15 years when most of us were still asleep at around 3:50 a.m. ET, there's no need to worry.

Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) would be vital to do this, but they are not present on Mars in high enough quantities to provide any significant greenhouse warming, said Dr Bruce Jakovsky.

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Unfortunately, weather conditions might make it hard to see Mars clearly.

Mars will be visible in the event horizon at sunset on Tuesday, making its way to the centre of the sky where it will be most visible at midnight. NASA is in no mood for that: "The message is that Mars will look as big as the moon in our night sky".

Since the Earth and Mars align in opposition about every two years, "this is why most NASA missions to the Red Planet are at least two years apart, to take advantage of the closer distance".

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