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Red Planet: Mars to Come Closest to Earth in 15 Years Next Month

On July 27, Mars will be in perihelic opposition, Express.co.uk reported on Sunday

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Red Planet: Mars to Come Closest to Earth in 15 Years Next Month. Pixabay
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Star gazers could have a good view of the Red Planet next month as Mars is set to come to the closest point to Earth since 2003 when it reaches opposition with the Sun in late July.

This year, Mars opposition will occur on July 27, according to NASA.

During opposition, Mars is especially photogenic because it can be seen fully illuminated by the Sun as viewed from Earth.

“Since Mars and the Sun appear on opposite sides of the sky, we say that Mars is in ‘opposition’,” NASA explained.

Also Read: Survival Of Mars Rover Is Under Threat Due To A Sandstorm

Every 15 or 17 years, opposition occurs within a few weeks of Mars’ perihelion – the point in its orbit when it is closest to the Sun.

“An opposition can occur anywhere along Mars’ orbit. When it happens while the Red Planet is closest to the Sun (called ‘perihelic opposition’), Mars is particularly close to Earth,” NASA said.

On July 27, Mars will be in perihelic opposition, Express.co.uk reported on Sunday.

But some perihelic oppositions bring Earth and Mars closer together than others, the US space agency said.

The 2003 opposition was the closest approach in almost 60,000 years, it added. (IANS)

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Earth’s Melting Ice Can Now Be Tracked By The Satellite That NASA Is Launching

The ICESat-2 will zoom above the planet at 7 km per second (4.3 miles per second), completing an orbit around Earth in 90 minutes.

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This is NASA's Latest achievement. Pixabay

NASA is set to launch its Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2, or ICESat-2 — that will track Earth’s melting poles and disappearing sea ice — on Saturday.

The satellite with a three-year mission is scheduled to launch at 8.46 a.m. EDT on September 15, with liftoff aboard a Satellite Delta II rocket from Space Launch Complex-2 (SLC-2), the US space agency said in a blog post late on Tuesday.

ICESat-2 is the NASA’s most advanced laser instrument — the Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System, or ATLAS.

It measures height by precisely timing how long it takes individual photons of light from a laser to leave the satellite, bounce off Earth and return to the satellite.

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ICESat-2 will measure the average annual elevation change of land ice covering Greenland and Antarctica. Flickr

The satellite will provide critical observations of how ice sheets, glaciers and sea ice are changing, leading to insights into how those changes impact people where they live, NASA said.

ICESat-2’s orbit will make 1,387 unique ground tracks around Earth in 91 days and then start the same ground pattern again at the beginning.

While the first ICESat satellite (2003-09) measured ice with a single laser beam, ICESat-2 splits its laser light into six beams making it better to cover more ground (or ice).

The arrangement of the beams into three pairs will also allow scientists to assess the slope of the surface they are measuring, NASA said.

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ICESat-2 is the NASA’s most advanced laser instrument Pixabay

Further, the ICESat-2 will zoom above the planet at 7 km per second (4.3 miles per second), completing an orbit around Earth in 90 minutes. The orbits have been set to converge at the 88-degree latitude lines around the poles, to focus the data coverage in the region where scientists expect to see the most changes.

Also Read: AI Helps Find Source Of Radio Bursts 3 Billion Light Years Away From Earth

All of those height measurements result from timing the individual laser photons on their 600-mile roundtrip between the satellite and Earth’s surface – a journey that is timed to within 800 picoseconds, NASA said. (IANS)

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