Videos and Illustrations
26 months Mars is opposite the Sun in our nighttime sky.
Since 1995, Mars has been at such an "opposition"
with the Sun seven times. A color composite from each
of the seven Hubble opposition observations has been assembled
in this mosaic to showcase the beauty and splendor that
is The Red Planet.
mosaic of all seven globes of Mars shows relative variations
in the apparent angular size of Mars over the years. Mars
was the closest in 2003 when it came within 35 million miles
(56 million kilometers) of Earth. The part of Mars that
is tilted towards the Earth also shifts over time, resulting
in the changing visibility of the polar caps. Clouds and
dust storms, as well as the size of the ice caps, can change
the appearance of Mars on time scales of days, weeks, and
months. Other features of Mars, such as some of the large
dark markings, have remained unchanged for centuries.
illustration shows the relative positions of Earth and
Mars at the last seven Martian oppositions from 1995 through
2007. Opposition occurs when the Sun and Mars are on exact
opposite sides of Earth, resulting in a full-phase for
Mars, similar to a full moon. The images of Mars show
the planet's apparent relative size at each opposition,
as viewed by the Earth-orbiting Hubble Space Telescope.
Orbits of the inner planets are to scale.
Mosaic and Opposition Illustration by Zolt Levay (STScI)