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VENUS AND MARS CONVERGE: Venus and Mars are converging

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04/05/2013 06:45 AM
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VENUS AND MARS CONVERGE: Venus and Mars are converging
VENUS AND MARS CONVERGE: Venus and Mars are converging for a close encounter, but don't bother looking because the conjunction is happening in broad daylight. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) took this picture of the planets only a few degrees from the Sun on April 5th:

At closest approach on April 6th, Venus and Mars will be only 1o apart.

After that, Mars will move even closer to the sun, which could limit NASA's contact with Mars rovers and orbiters. According to a NASA press release, "The sun can easily disrupt radio transmissions during the near-alignment. To prevent an impaired command from reaching an orbiter or rover, mission controllers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory are preparing to suspend sending any commands to spacecraft at Mars for weeks in April. Transmissions from Mars to Earth will also be reduced." Mars will be at its closest to the sun, a slim 0.4 degrees on April 17th.

The ongoing dance of the sun and planets is invisible to the human eye, but coronagraphs can see the show. Join SOHO for a ringside seat.

[link to www.spaceweather.com]