By Marisa Gertz
May 19, 2016

Mars is ready for its closeup in this new Hubble Telescope image, released as the Red Planet is at its most photogenic.

The sun and Mars will be on the exact opposite sides of Earth on May 22, causing it to be fully illuminated from our perspective. Mars will also be at its closest point to the Earth in 11 years, at 46.8 million miles away, on May 30th.

The soft, dreamy, blue areas are clouds and morning haze, while the rusty red area in the center is Arabia Terra, an upland region that might be one of the oldest terrains on the planet. Dark streaks, known as Sinus Sabaeus, indicate the presence of sand grains created from ancient lava flows. The dark region on the far right is Syrtis Major Planitia, an inactive shield volcano.

 

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