Liquid water on Mars and what this means

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With scientists recently announcing the exciting discovery of a "lake" hidden below ice on Mars' south pole, the Red Planet is seemingly capitalizing on the exciting news by coming closer to Earth than it has in 15 years. Because of gravitational influences and the tilt of the planets' orbits, Mars sometimes comes even closer than usual to Earth - the 2003 opposition was the closest pass in almost 60,000 years. "All planets look like stars initially, but they don't twinkle". Primitive life may have evolved on the planet then, only to be snuffed out when the world lost most of its atmosphere and became an arid frozen desert.

"Despite its glorious girth, northern observers will pay a price during this juicy Mars apparition", Sky & Telescope contributing editor Bob King said. In addition, Friday's event coincides with the full moon, so our night sky will also be illuminated by our nearest celestial neighbor. About an hour after sunset, Mars will have risen high enough to see above the trees.

Whatever the extent of polar basal melting now on Mars, it was nearly certainly greater in the past, Clifford said. At the same time, it will also be the brightest since 2003.

"It's not great weather at the moment for observing because Tampa at this time of the year has so much moisture in the air", said Mackay.

Both Mars and Earth, of course, orbit the sun. Mackay explained that the Earth gets farther from the sun as the year continues.

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It's all thanks to a phenomenon called "opposition", which means the Earth is sandwiched between the Sun and Mars.

Try your best to catch the opposition this year, since Mars won't be this close until September 2035. By next Tuesday, Mars will be at its closest point to Earth since 2003. In 2020, Mars and Earth will again approach one another at a distance of about 39 million miles. Now, as Mars and Saturn swing by Earth this summer, the legendary telescope has snapped a handful of handsome imagesto add to the collection. "So because of those two factors, Mars will appear very, very bright in the sky".

From 8:30 to 11:30 p.m. Friday, Paris said that astronomers from the Center of Planetary Science will set up telescopes for the public next to Pier 60 in Clearwater Beach.

The tool is called the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (MARSIS), and was created to find subsurface water by sending radar pulses that penetrate the surface and ice caps.

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