At about 10 am Universal Time [ http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/astronomy/UniversalTime.html ] today, Mars [ http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap030826.html ] and Earth [ http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap000102.html ] will pass closer than in nearly 60,000 years. Mars [ http://www.nineplanets.org/mars.html ], noticeably red, will be the brightest object in the eastern sky [ http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2003/25aug_closeencounter.htm ] just after sunset. Tonight and through much of this week, many communities around the world are running a public Mars Watch 2003 campaign [ http://www.planetary.org/marswatch2003/events.html ], where local telescopes will zoom in on the red planet. Pictured above [ http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/2003/22/image/a/ ] is an image of Mars taken just last night from the Hubble Space Telescope [ http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap010806.html ] in orbit around the Earth. This image [ http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/2003/22/ ] is the most detailed view of Mars ever taken from Earth. Visible features include the south polar cap [ http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap021224.html ] in white at the image bottom, circular Huygens crater [ http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA04646 ] just to the right of the image center, Hellas Impact Basin [ http://www.solarviews.com/cap/mgs/mgstopo5.htm ] - the large light circular feature at the lower right, planet-wide [ http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap010628.html ] light highlands dominated by many smaller craters and large sweeping dark areas [ http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap010628.html ] dominated by relatively smooth lowlands.
J. Bell [ http://marswatch.tn.cornell.edu/Welcome.html ] (Cornell U. [ http://www.astro.cornell.edu/ ]), M. Wolff [ http://www.spacescience.org/Welcome/SSIPeople/Bios/Wolff/1.html ] (SSI [ http://www.spacescience.org/ ]) et al., STScI [ http://www.stsci.edu ], NASA [ http://www.nasa.gov/ ]