Mars Retrograde

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Retrograde directed or moving backward. . .Retrograde motion is when a planet appears, when observed from Earth, to reverse direction. This happens due to an optical illusion caused by differences in orbit.

The Planets are putting on a show and we are not paying attention. It’s a natural wonder and worthy of view. Let’s take a look on this rare planet motion and how affects mankind’s Mars Exploration programs.

An Optical illusion?

The planets orbit around the sun is not a circular as most of us think. It is in an elliptical motion and on a different distance. In this aspect, Mars has the larger orbit compared to Earth. In simple terms, Earth orbits faster that Mars.

As Earth orbit’s around the Sun we can clearly observe, that, we are on the same direction with Mars. Since, we are at a much faster orbit. It comes to a point that Mars appears to be still and later moving backwards. And as Earth pulls ahead of it(speed wise), Mars resumes it’s forward motion.

Animation of Mars in retrograde

An animation showing the retrograde motion of Mars in summer of 2003. Credit: Eugene Alvin Villar (via Wikipedia)

The background elements

The other factor of this optical phenomenon is the background sky. Earth and Mars are continuously movie along its orbit. At Earth’s vantage point we are basically seeing Mars normally. The background sky plays the key part of the illusion. Here’s a short video that explains the rare phenomenon.

Here are some past Mars retrogrades plotted.

How this rare phenomenon affects Mars Exploration?

Mars retrograde happens every 2 years. It’s the same time frame where the window of opportunity to Mars is at its shortest route. NASA Mars Perseverance Rover is cruising to the Red planet as we speak.

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Where is Perseverance now?


Still six months out till Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover touches down Martian Soil. But, what good is our tracking if we can’t locate where the rover’s ride is now on its journey to Mars. Can we track, the Mars 2020 craft even still in space and on it’s path to Mars orbit? Top Travel Hacks:

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A journey is relative

Our pace maybe faster. Others might be slower and vice versa. Sometimes, we tend to compare our own path to others and often times we do see others slow pace as negatively(at our vantage point of view). Just because we are faster others are just simply left behind. We should not be tricked by this “illusion”. It could they are just taking their time. Or, just stopping to get some fresh air after a tiring long journey.

Hope this Mars Retrograde details helps you. It finally did answer my question as well. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. Subscribe to my blog for more Mars Exploration and NASA Mars Perseverance Rover updates. Thank you!


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