Mars makes closest approach to Earth in 15 years

The minimum distance from the Earth to Mars is about 33.9 million miles

The minimum distance from the Earth to Mars is about 33.9 million miles

At 4:50 p.m., the red planet was 57.59 million kilometers from Earth and the fourth brightest object in the cloudless skies, following the sun, the moon and Venus.

Terraforming a planet, according to the scientists, involves changing its ecosystem, starting with the atmosphere, so humans can live there without using life support equipment.

The last closest approach was in 2003 when Mars was 34.6 million miles (55.7 million kilometers) from Earth "and the closest it had been in almost 60,000 years", said NASA.

July is the "Summer of Mars", so it's only fitting that the red planet will be wrapping up the month with its most spectacular show yet - a close encounter.

In the 1898 science fiction novel War of the Worlds, the invading Martian forces bring a red weed with them that begins to kill off Earth's plant life to make the planet habitable for the Martians. "It's like we're seeing full Mars".

"Right now, we're approaching Mars when Mars is near the closest point to the sun on its orbit", Betts said.

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You'll be able to see Mars into the fall, but it will get smaller and smaller as its orbit takes it farther away from Earth.

The perihelion opposition of 2003 was unusually close-NASA said the two planets won't get that close together again until August 28, 2287.

The minimum distance from the Earth to Mars is about 33.9 million miles (54.6 million kilometers) and is rarely achieved.

On July 31, Mars and the Earth will be at their closest which allows for excellent viewing of Mars through a telescope.

Luckily, you can see Mars easily with the naked eye.

If you don't want to wait that long, take a few minutes this evening to step outside and glance skyward.

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