Whoa, did Mars just almost collide with Earth? (OK, no, but it was super close to us.)
Mars came closer to Earth than it has for 11 years. The little red planet came within 47.2 million miles of us. In space terms, that’s crazy close.
If weather didn't cooperate for you last night, you can still catch Mars in the SE sky tonight. pic.twitter.com/TTyoC8uVw1
— Learn to Skywatch (@Learntoskywatch) May 31, 2016
What’s so great about Mars?
What’s not great about Mars? First of all, out of all the planets in our solar system, it’s the one that most resembles earth. Plus, it has water. And one year on Mars is 687 Earth days!
Other super cool facts:
- Mars is coming out of an ice age that ended 400,000 years ago.
- In 2014, we found signs of life (in the form of “burps” of methane) on the red planet.
- Cairo, Egypt is actually named after Mars (Cairo means Mars in Arabic) because apparently Mars was rising when Cairo was founded.
- Despite being the second-smallest planet, it houses the largest mountain in the entire solar system! BTW it’s three times the height of Everest and just under the size of France.
- If you ever walked on Mars, you’d feel lighter! There’s 62.5% less gravity on the red planet, so if you weigh 150 lbs on Earth, you’re about 56 lbs on Mars! That’s the best diet I’ve heard in years.
I sent this picture of Saturn and Mars I took from last night to Astronomy Now magazine. pic.twitter.com/AsdllArmlO
— David Blanchflower (@DavidBflower) May 31, 2016
Wait, I’ve heard something about humans on Mars?
You’re right. NASA projected it would have a colony ready for human use by the 2030s.
Oh and BTW, if you go, you don’t come back.
As NASA’s report explained,
“In the next few decades, Nasa will take steps toward establishing a human presence beyond Earth…Any journey to Mars will take many months each way and early return is not an option…Efforts made today and in the next decade will lay the foundation for an Earth Independent, sustained presence in deep space. Living and working in space requires accepting risk and the journey is worth the risk.”
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Samantha is a senior at Georgetown studying English and studio art. She has written for USA TODAY College, The Hoya, DC Life Magazine, and Smithsonian, among others, and is the current co-editor-in-chief of Georgetown campus publication Venture Capitol, which covers entrepreneurship and startups in DC. When not reporting or shooting with her Nikon, she's surrounded by books on Greek mythology and neuroscience or listening to tech podcasts on her way to Bikram yoga.