JPL simulations for a view of Mars during the Opposition of 2012. All assume perfect seeing and are at the diffraction limits for the various aperture OTAs, from 3" to 18". Bad news! The planet will be a tiny 13.9 arc-sec in diameter and we will have to wait till 2018 when it will almost double in size to 24 arc-sec. Anyway, what is the best we can hope for during 2012? If you are aiming for "razor sharp" displays, I am afraid that you will have to settle for the tiny ones in the top row. That's what your diligent efforts will be chasing. Make sure that "original" below right is activated! Of course you can always increase mush by enlarging beyond a Nyquist Display for your OTA's aperture. In any case it is obvious that you will need a fairly large aperture to capture those faint albedo markings. I took the time for midnight in Muscat and Mars will have its most bland face on offer. Will have to image it a few hours earlier or later (or a few nights earlier/later) to capture the more prominent "continents".