For the seventh consecutive year, phony messages are filling up e-mail inboxes around the world warning that on August 27, Mars will approach Earth and grow to the size of a full moon. "NO ONE ALIVE TODAY WILL EVER SEE THIS AGAIN," the e-mail declares--all in capital letters.
And no, it's not true.
But the Mars hoax has reached such epidemic proportions that NASA saw fit to send out an e-mail late Tuesday night, reminding people that come Friday, Mars will be "314 million km from Earth, about as far away as it can get."
As with so many pop culture bromides, there's a grain of truth to this one. In 2003, Mars actually did swell to unusual proportions, and on August 27 of that year, the Red Planet came within 56 million kilometers of Earth. That was the nearest it has been in 60,000 years. That's when the e-mails began--and they show no sign of stopping this year. Get your delete key ready, just in case.
For more on this story, read Mutating Mars hoax at it yet again on CNET News.