Mars at opposition 2018: when is the Red Planet closest to earth?

Jan Cross
July 31, 2018

In 2011, an unknown Nepalese, Lachendro of Ojha studied images of the surface of Mars made by NASA.

Look opposite the Sun in the sky tonight and you'll see Mars at its brightest.

Mars is littered with many geological features whose origin could be interpreted in numerous ways.

It's almost a mile below the surface and more than 12 miles wide.

An Italian team led by R. Orosei and 21 scientists as co-authors claimed to have detected liquid water 1500 meters below the south pole of Mars. That orbit is not a ideal circle. Experts estimate that Mars' brightness will persist for several weeks.

Jeffrey Plaut of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in an email that the interpretation that it is liquid water is "certainly plausible, but it's not quite a slam dunk yet".

Researchers said they are not sure how far down it goes, but that it may be around three feet (one meter) deep.

"This is just one small study area; it is an exciting prospect to think there could be more of these underground pockets of water elsewhere, yet to be discovered".

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"The bright spot seen in the MARSIS data is an unusual feature and extremely intriguing", said Jim Green, NASA's chief scientist.

"We had to come up with a new operating mode to bypass some onboard processing and trigger a higher sampling rate and thus improve the resolution of the footprint of our dataset: now we see things that simply were not possible before".

Whether microbial forms of life could lie within is a matter of debate.

A science report from this week suggests that salty water has been found on Mars.

"While the discovery is a major one for researchers hoping to find life on Mars, no one's getting their hopes up-but they are tentatively preparing themselves for a real alien discovery in Mars" subsurface.

In 2015, scientists found a sign of water on Mars. Mars will remain considerably bright, like that of another star, until that date. It has an atmosphere (but much more tenuous), white ice caps on the southern and northern polar regions (but not only water ice but also carbon dioxide ice), as well as evidence of the past existence of rivers and even oceans.

"Caution needs to be exercised, however, as the concentration of salts needed to keep the water liquid could be fatal for any microbial life similar to Earth's", added Watson, who was not involved in the research.

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