How far is Mars from Earth, sun & other planets? Average & maximum distances, Planets decor style
How Far is Mars from Earth, Sun & Other Planets? Average & Maximum Distances
21 Nov 2022
A few years back, flights to Mats ceased to become an unattainable sci-fi dream and turned into a foreseeable future. In about a decade, we may see the first astronauts land on the Red Planet. But how far is Mars from Earth and other planets? Not to bury the lead, there is no precise answer to that because the distance from other planets to Mars is constantly changing because all planets in our solar system orbit the Sun on their respective elliptical orbits.
So, each planet will have its perihelion (nearest point to the Sun) and aphelion (farthest point from the Sun), too. And since all planetary orbits are of different lengths, the distance between different planets in the solar system is not fix either. But, of course, there is always an average, approximate distance, and, considering the scale of our system, it should be enough to see just how huge those distances are. So, let’s discover the average distance between Earth and Mars, as well as other planets.
How far is Mars from the Sun Compared to Other Planets?
Besides miles and kilometers, we’re used to on Earth, distance to the Sun is also measured in Astronomical Units (AUs), which stand for about 150 million kilometers (93 million miles) or 8.3 light-minutes. Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun, after Mercury, Venus, and our Earth, followed by Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Let’s first see how far each of those planets is located from the Sun.
- Mercury: avg 57 million km (close 46 million km, far 70 million km)
- Venus: avg 108 million km (close 107 million km, far 109 million km)
- Earth: avg 150 million km (close 147 million km, far 152 million km)
- Mars: avg 228 million km (close 205 million km, far 249 million km)
- Jupiter: avg 779 million km (close 741 million km, far 817 million km)
- Saturn: avg 1.43 billion km (close 1.35 billion km, far 1.51 billion km)
- Uranus: avg 2.88 billion km (close 2.75 billion km, far 3.00 billion km)
- Neptune: avg 4.50 billion km (close 4.45 billion km, far 4.55 billion km)
So, should anyone ask you — are Mars and Earth the same distance from the Sun? You can now safely answer — no, even though compared to other planets in our system, the difference in distance is comparatively small. Also, judging from the comparison above, it does not seem too difficult to calculate the average, closest, and furthest possible distances from Earth to Mars. But, according to Orbital Today, it is a little more complex than that because there are many factors involved.
What Other Factors Define Distance from Earth to Mars?
Mars and Earth have different orbit lengths, each planet making a full turn around the Sun in its own speed. In our case, a full orbit takes 365 days to complete — which constitutes a full astronomic year on Earth. Since the distance from the Sun to Mars is longer than it is from the Sun to Earth, the astronomic year on Mars also lasts longer — 687 Earth days or 669 sols (days on Mars). One Mars day is also longer than it is back on Earth — roughly by 40 minutes.
So, when both Mars and Earth are in ‘opposition’ — their theoretically closest distance from one another, when both planets are at their aphelion (closest point to the Sun), the distance between Earth and Mars can be as small as 55 million km. Assuming both Earth and Mars are at their farthest points from the Sun, at their opposite sides, the distance between these planets will exceed 400 million km.
How Long Does it Take to Get from Earth to Mars?
Even here, there is no definite answer because it all depends on the spacecraft’s technical parameters, its chosen flight trajectory (three different options to choose from for a Mars flight), and of course, your flight operator. So far, the shortest robotic mission to Mars has lasted 128 days, while the longest one took 333 days.
Besides, there is a matter of choosing the ultimate time for your Mars trip because the Red Giant approaches Earth roughly every 26 months. For a robotic mission, this may not be so important, but for a manned flight, it is crucial to spend less time in space because more time would also mean carrying more supplies.
But, of course, we all know that Elon Musk has been long dreaming of colonizing Mars and is already building a Starship to get the first astronauts there. What does he have to say about flight plans? Right now, SpaceX is working on the possibility of refueling in space — because, without that, Mars flights would all be one-way tickets. So far, an estimated flight duration on Starship should be around 115 days, but things may yet change by the time we’re ready to pack our Mars travel kits.
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