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Flight Plan

Mars and Earth The shortest distance between two planets is not a straight line. At least that's the case in the business of spaceflight. The shortest distance is a curved line that takes into account a number of factors, including the orbits of the two planets and the position of each planet within its orbit.

The MER mission takes advantage of a rare close alignment of Earth and Mars in 2003. On June 10, 2003, the first Mars Exploration Rover (MER) spacecraft was launched on a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.