WALTER PACHOLKA, ASTROPICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY WALTER PACHOLKA, ASTROPICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Mars. Optical image of Mars (orange) viewed through a natural rock arch. In 2003, planet Mars was closer to Earth than at any other time in the last 50,000 years. The closest approach was on 27 August 2003 when the planets were 55.76 million kilometres apart. Mars appears orange because its surface is covered in a red, rocky desert. It is the fourth planet out from the Sun, and takes 687 days to complete one orbit. Rock arches are formed by erosion of rock. In this case, sandstone has been eroded by the wind. Photographed at Arch Rock in the Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada, USA on 20 July 2003.
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