This is Mars on 24 August 2003 at approximately 0435-0602UT.  The image was captured as Mars was approaching opposition.  Opposition occurs when a planet is directly opposite the Sun and so is at its closest approach to Earth.   In 2003, opposition for Mars takes place on 27 August and brings Mars to within 37 million miles from Earth, its closest approach in approximately 60,000 years.

   This image is a composite of 135, 0.3sec exposures through red, green and blue filters.  Compare the image to the "Sky and Telescope" Mars Previewer II drawing below that depicts the features visible on Mars during the 0600UT hour of 24 August.  The South Polar Cap is at top and the large dark patch on the right is  Mare Erythraeum.  The roundish dark patch near the center of the image is Solis Lacus.

More information and images of Mars are available at Wikipedia - Mars.


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