NASA Picks Finalists For 3D-Printed Mars Habitat Contest

Posted August 01, 2018

Mars, the fourth planet of the solar system, orbits the Sun at a greater distance than our planet. Astronomers around the world trained their telescopes on the sky when Mars comes closer to Earth.

The event known as "Mars Close Approach" will happen on July 31.

Because of both planets' elliptical orbits and the length of time it takes each planet to make it around the sun, Earth's best views of Mars only arrive every 15 to 17 years.

An illustration showing Mars and the Moon in "opposition" to Earth.

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The study finds that even using all of the sources of carbon dioxide and water on Mars to thicken the atmosphere would only increase pressure to 7% of that on Earth, "far short of what is needed". With just 15 millibars of pressure reported to be available on Mars, this is much less than Earth's 1,000 millibars.

If you do, you'll get to see Mars up close for the first time since 2003, when it last made an approach like this. Back in 2014, the space agency partnered with Bradley University in IL on a project that challenged citizen scientists to come up with designs for efficient Mars habitats, as well the technologies that would help future astronauts readily build dome-like structures once they land on the red planet.

The last such event was in 2003 when Mars and Earth came the closest they had in almost 60,000 years - touching within 34.6 million miles (55.7 million kilometres) of each other.

As a result, Mars will always be too cold for humans to ever survive without the help of their space suits.

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When Mars and Earth are close to each other, Mars appears very bright in the sky. Generally, the minimum distance from Mars to Earth is 55.7 million km whereas maximum distance planet Mars can be away from Earth is 401.3 Million Km.

The image of Saturn was taken on June 6 when its ring system was near its maximum tilt towards Earth, allowing for a handsome view of the rings and the gaps between them.

Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles is the public viewing spot, where Mars can be seen with naked eye. The next close approach, meanwhile, in 2020, will be 38.6 million miles (62 million kilometers), according to NASA.

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