Mars is currently at its closest point to Earth, and is aligning with our planet on the same side as the Sun. This incredible event happens every 26 months.
On Tuesday, October 13 the Earth, Mars and the Sun will be in perfect alignment at 23:20 GMT (1:20am on Wednesday, October 14 for South Africa).
This means that as Mars is already in relatively close proximity to Earth, it is now at its biggest and brightest. According to BBC, Mars is now only around 62,069,570km away from Earth. That’s the nearest it will be until 2035.
This alignment also naturally provides prime opportunity for sending crafts to Mars.
Currently, three space missions are on their way to Mars: The United Arab Emirates’ Hope orbiter; China’s Tianwen orbiter and rover; and the Americans’ Perseverance rover. All were launched in July and are expected to reach the Red Planet in February 2021.
Europe and Russia had hoped to despatch their ExoMars “Rosalind Franklin” rover, too, but they missed the launch window and will now have to wait until late 2022, reports BBC.
Picture: Wikimedia Commons