Hubble Space Telescope Update: Recent Images Show Closest Cosmic Scheme Ever

First Posted: May 23, 2016 06:20 AM EDT

Mars' new close-up images were captured by the Hubble Space Telescope on May 12, showing the planet's craters, clouds, ice caps as well as other features. The Hubble took the image when the red planet was only 50 million miles away from the Earth, a distance close enough in terms of the cosmic scheme of things.

This means that Mars is almost at the opposition, or when the sun and the red planet are on the opposite sides of the Earth from one another, which is reported to occur on May 22. However, other reports indicate a May 30 opposition and approach when Mars and Earth are both separated by 46.8 million miles,  as the dates of the closest opposition do not exactly match.  

Mars will appear brighter and bigger in the sky as compared to its usual when the opposition signifies the red planet's closest encounter with the Earth. Based on a statement released by the European Space Agency officials on May 19, the event will help the astronomers to collect more information about the Martian surface through the use of telescopes on the ground and in space, I4U reported.

The Mars image, which was captured by the telescope's Wide Field Camera 3, presents the planet's natural color view where the plains, craters, mountains and other geological attributes are noticeable. According to ESA officials, the orange portion in the center of the image is the Arabia Terra, which is a broad upland region heavily eroded and densely crated -  signs that it could be one of the  planet's oldest features.

The southern Arabia Terra is darker and a long feature referred to as the Sinus Meridiani and the Sinus Sabaeus. Both dark regions are shielded with bedrock from volcanic features. The clouds cover Syrtis Major's dark volcanic plains, on the planet's right side, as well as shield the vast south polar ice cap, according to Mashable.

Hubble's Mars mission is being run by both NASA and ESA.

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