Mars is one of the nine planets in the universe and is ranked fourth in terms of closeness to the sun. The distance from one planet to the other varies. Mars and Earth are the two close planets although Venus and Earth have the shortest distance between them.
Distance From The Earth To Mars
Space scientists have developed a keen interest in planet Mars due to its Earth-related features. There have been rumours of the possibility of life on this planet because of some research activities, which have been done over many years. Therefore, some have attempted to visit this phenomenal heavenly body supported by the fact that it is close to the Earth.
The distance from the Earth to the Mars is significantly smaller as compared to the distance to other planets such as the mercury or even Jupiter. However, this distance varies depending on the positions they are situated while rotating around the sun. Planets have distinct “paths” called orbits, which they pass as they rotate around the sun. As the planets rotate, the distances would vary from one another depending on the positions situated along their orbits.
Therefore, there are periods when the Mars and the Earth are closest to one another and periods when they are closest. Theoretically, Mars and Earth are closest when the Mars is closest to the sun, and the Earth lies at the furthest point from the sun. Such periods are referred to as perihelion and aphelion respectively. The estimated distance would be 54.6 million kilometres, which translate to 33.9 million miles apart. Scientists say that this condition has never occurred in history and the closest distance ever recorded was in the year 2003 when Mars and the Earth were 56 million kilometres apart (34.8 million miles)
The Earth and Mars are furthest from each other when they lie in opposite directions, and the sun is in between them. The distance would be as large as 401 million kilometres (250 million miles). Hence, the average distance between the two is about 225 million kilometres.
Measuring Distance Between Planets
The distance from Earth to Mars may be measured in terms of speed of light. Through approximation of speed of light, it is estimated that the light that is shining on Mars would take 182 seconds to reach the Earth as the closest approach. The furthest approach is estimated to be 1,342 seconds. Therefore, the average time taken by light from Mars to the Earth is approximately 7,512 seconds.
The use of spacecraft has also estimated the distance from the Earth to the Mars. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched a spacecraft in 2006 from Earth to Pluto traveling at 58,000 kilometres per hour. Under such speed, the estimated time taken to reach Mars was 3,888 hours, which is almost 162 days. However, this distance is not accurate as it involves estimation. The main set back is the ever-changing positions of the planets concerning their rotation around the sun. Precise estimate becomes complicated due to the technological drawbacks of satellites, which may give inaccurate information.