If we had a Mars mission ready, now would be the perfect time to launch it

It’s a shame that NASA (or SpaceX, or anybody else) doesn't have a Mars mission ready to launch — because now would be the perfect time to do it.

NASA notes that on May 30, the Red Planet will be just 46.8 million miles away from Earth — which is the closest our celestial neighbor has been in 11 years. The closeness comes fresh off Mars and the sun being in opposition on May 22, when the planet was visible with the naked eye, an event that occurs about every 26 months. Of course, it doesn’t really matter right now, since Congress isn’t even sure if NASA can make it to Mars.

Though the 46-million-mile distance is shorter than usual, it pales in comparison to the record set in 2003, when Mars was a mere 35 million miles away. Which is a lot, sure, but it would still knock a chunk off the journey if we can line up a launch window just right. Sadly, we won’t have anything close to that short again until 2287 — but by then, we’ve hopefully made it a whole lot further than Mars. Hopefully. 

What year do you think it'll be when we finally put boots on that red soil?

(Via NASA, Gizmodo)

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