During an October 9 press briefing at NASA headquarters, panelists discussed the Earth and space-based assets that will be in position to observe the October 19 flyby of Mars by comet C/2013 A1, also known as comet Siding Spring. These assets include NASA’s iconic Hubble Space Telescope and spacecraft orbiting and roving Mars.
During the once-in-a-lifetime flyby, Siding Spring will pass within about 88,000 miles (139,500 kilometers) of the Red Planet — less than half the distance between Earth and our moon and less than one-tenth the distance of any known comet flyby of Earth. This proximity will provide an unprecedented opportunity for researchers to gather data on both the comet and its effect on the Martian atmosphere.
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