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Optical image of Mars in the constellation Virgo

Optical image of Mars in the constellation Virgo

R350/0122

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Credit

JOHN SANFORD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JOHN SANFORD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Mars. Optical image of the planet Mars (bright orange, centre left) in the constellation Virgo. North is at top. The bright blue/white star to the right of Mars is Spica (Alpha Virginis). Mars is the fourth planet out from the Sun, and takes 687 days to complete one orbit. It appears a reddish colour from Earth as its surface is mainly covered by a red rocky desert. The red colour comes from rust-like compounds formed from the iron-rich soil. Spica is the 16th brightest star in the sky (excluding the Sun). It is a very luminous star which lies around 220 light years away.

Release details

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