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NASA Mars Exploration Program
Mars Exploration Program


Mars in our Night Sky

An illustration of the Earth and Mars in opposition. Click on the image to go to the 'Mars Opposition' page.

Mars Opposition

The distance to Mars varies from about 56 million kilometers (about 35 million miles) to 400 million kilometers (about 249 million miles). Why the difference? And why so close now?
Every day for over two decades, the U.S. has had a presence at Mars, using spacecraft to understand this extreme world and its potential as a past or present habitat for life.

Solar Conjunction

When the sun comes between Earth and Mars, communications with Mars spacecraft diminish drastically. Find out how the mission teams cope!
An illustration of the path that Mars takes over a few months, year 2005, as seen from Boston, Massachusetts. Click on the image to go to the 'Mars Retrograde' page.

Mars Retrograde

When Mars is close, it appears to move backwards from night to night! Find out why.

Find out where and when Mars will be in your neighborhood.
Mars Close Approaches

Mars Close Approaches

Close is a relative term. At its closest, Mars is still tens of millions of miles away from Earth. Still, the decreased distance during "closest approach" allows for fuel-conserving flights to Mars every 26 months and a good view of Mars once or twice every 15 to 17 years for Earth-bound sky watchers.

For help viewing Mars, please contact your local Night Sky Network astronomy club.
Moon-Mars redness comparison.

Total Lunar Eclipse

Mercury transit accross the sun.

Mercury Transit