Mars reaches its closest approach to Earth in 15 years

Mars reached its closest approach to Earth on Tuesday (July 31) with a distance of 35.8 million miles (57.6 million kilometers), according to NASA.

It is the closest the two planets have been to one another since the historic 34.6-million-mile (55.6 million kilometers) close approach in August 2003, the agency said. 

Team members from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory gathered at Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California, to view the big event.

The next similar close approach is not slated to occur for another 17 years. 

On September 11, 2035, Earth and Mars will be even closer at a distance of 35.4 million miles (56.9 million kilometers), NASA said. 

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