Look up Tuesday night! Mars hasn’t been this bright in October in over 30 years

Look up Tuesday night! Mars hasn't been this bright in October in over 30 years
Look up Tuesday night! Mars hasn’t been this bright in October in over 30 years

Mars has been growing brighter in the night sky throughout the year so far. On Tuesday night, the planet will be at the brightest we’ve seen it in October in 32 years.

According to NASA, on October 6, 2020, Mars will be 62.1 million kilometres away from Earth. That’s the closest it’s come to us since July and August of 2018, when it reached a distance of 57.6 million km on July 31.

21868 Mars 2018-2020 revised metric NASA
21868 Mars 2018-2020 revised metric NASA

Mars was just 57.6 million km from Earth on July 31, 2018, the closest since 2003. By August 21, 2018, it was farther away than it is now, in October 2020. Credit: NASA/Scott Sutherland

According to NASA, Mars came even closer to Earth in 2003 – 55.7 million km on August 27 – which was the

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Watch Mars Make Its Closest Approach To Earth Until 2035

On October 6, 2020, Mars makes its closest approach to Earth until 2035.

Earth and Mars both orbit the Sun in the same direction, but

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Mars exploration: A driver of innovation and commerce

Despite the disruption of so many aspects of life on Earth caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, our nation and the rest of the world continue to be enthralled with, and fully engaged in, the exploration of Mars. Indeed, not one, not two, but three international robotic missions were launched toward Mars this summer. Two of those missions, one from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the other from China, launched within four days of each other (July 19 and July 23, respectively), and the United States successfully launched its Mars 2020 rover on July 30th.

America is also planning to send astronauts back to the moon later this decade, followed by sending humans to Mars in the 2030s. Such missions to the Red Planet have the potential to discover whether life ever existed on Mars and will also seek to determine whether humans will be able to live, work and

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How to watch Mars rule the night sky in October

Mars will bright and beautiful in the October 2020 night sky.


NASA

Forget Halloween. This October is all about the glory of Mars. The glimmering red planet will put on a show in the night sky. 

You can enjoy Mars as a bright point of light all month long, but there are two special dates to mark on your calendar: Oct. 6 when the planet makes a close approach to Earth, and Oct. 13, when it will be in opposition. 

Spotting Mars

Mars has a reputation as the “red” planet, but its color in the night sky is a little more on the Halloween side of the spectrum. It appears as a bright orange-red dot to the naked eye, like a little spot of glittering rust.

Mars’ distinctive color is one clue you’ve found

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Can We Still Go to Mars?

Elsewhere in the solar system, a NASA rover is on its way to Mars. It carries, among other things, several pieces of spacesuit material. Designers want to see how the samples fare in the planet’s dusty, radiation-laden environment—the sturdy fabrics of the suit’s exterior, the cut-resistant fibers of its gloves, the shatterproof plastic of the bubble helmet that might someday reflect the soft light of a Martian sunset. When future astronauts arrive on the surface, the spacesuit designers back on Earth must be sure that they’re appropriately dressed for the occasion.

The rover lands in February. Those future Mars explorers—who knows?

Men managed to make it to the moon 50 years ago, and for years now, setting foot on the red planet has felt like the clearest next step. Someday, an astronaut might be hunched over a desk, a wastebasket full of crumpled paper nearby, trying to come up with

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Halley’s Comet Meteors, Dazzling Mars And Halloween’s ‘Blue Moon’

October is a always great month to go stargazing, and in 2020 it’s got some truly unmissable sights.

In the northern hemisphere October means longer nights, and when the clocks change it makes stargazing a possible in the early evening.

It’s also the month that the jewels of the winter night sky begin to return; the unmissable Andromeda Galaxy—the closest giant galaxy to our Milky Way—is becoming visible right after dark while towards the end of the month the sparkling Pleiades star cluster will rise in the east before midnight.

The planets are lingering. Jupiter and its four Galilean moons shine brightly in the south after dark with dimmer Saturn in tow, but this month it’s the turn of Mars to dominate post-sunset skies as it comes to opposition. Meanwhile, Venus sparkles in the pre-dawn skies.

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Even More Evidence Points to ‘Water Bodies’ Under the Surface of Mars

Photo credit: ESA
Photo credit: ESA

From Popular Mechanics

In 2018, planetary scientist Roberto Orosei and his colleagues stirred up a multi-planetary controversy when they claimed they’d found evidence of a subglacial lake nearly a mile below ice at Mars’s south pole. At the time, fellow planetary scientists met the claims with intense scrutiny.

Now, Orosei, a planetary scientist at Italy’s National Institute for Astrophysics, and his fellow researchers say they have new, additional evidence that these deep, vast subglacial lakes really do exist. They published their findings this week in the journal Nature Astronomy.

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If these lakes are, in fact, real, they could reshape our understanding of whether life could still exist on Mars. “This area is the closest thing to ‘habitable’ on Mars that has been found so far,” Orosei told Science News.

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Here’s the first ‘selfie’ of China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft on its way to Mars

tw1-crop

Tianwen-1 is en route to Mars, hoping to make China the third nation to successfully land on the red planet.


Chinese Lunar Exploration Program

This is our first look at China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft on the way to Mars. Against the black backdrop of the eternal void, but shining in the sun, Tianwen-1 has its solar panels The Martian exploration mission, which launched in July, is travelling away from the Earth and scheduled to reach the red planet in Feb. 2021 and make a controlled landing in May.

The image was released by the Chinese National Space Agency (CNSA) and the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP) on the National Day of the People’s Republic of China. In a blog post, the team write the probe is now nearly 15 million miles from the Earth and is “in good condition.” The post details how the golden orbiter and silver landing device

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You don’t want to miss Mars shining bright this fall

Mars is lighting up the night sky as the planet heads toward an unusually close approach to Earth on Oct. 6. 

If you look low in the eastern sky on any clear evening this week, soon after darkness falls, you’ll see a fiery, pumpkin-hued “star” blazing brilliantly. Despite the “Red Planet” moniker, the weeks surrounding Mars’ close approach are a perfect time to appreciate the planet’s true hue, a yellowish orange, the color of a dry desert under a high sun — which is exactly what you’re looking at.

Astronomers use a scale called magnitude to rate the brightness of celestial objects and these days, Mars is shining at an eye-popping magnitude of -2.6. The lower the magnitude, the brighter the object, with stars on the threshold of naked-eye visibility classed as sixth magnitude. The most brilliant objects in the sky have negative magnitudes: Sirius, the brightest

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Buried lakes of liquid water discovered on Mars

Three underground lakes have been detected near the south pole of Mars.

Scientists also confirmed the existence of a fourth lake – the presence of which was hinted at in 2018.

Liquid water is vital for biology, so the finding will be of interest to researchers studying the potential for life elsewhere in the Solar System.

But the lakes are also thought to be extremely salty, which could make it difficult for any microbial life to survive in them.

Mars’ thin atmosphere means that the presence of liquid water on the surface is a near-impossibility. But water could remain liquid below ground.

The latest discovery was made using data from a radar instrument on the European Space Agency’s (Esa) Mars Express spacecraft, which has been orbiting the Red Planet since December 2003.

In 2018, researchers used data from the Marsis radar to report signs of a 20km-wide subsurface lake located

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