NASA Prepares to Eye Comet’s Flyby of Mars


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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1 Comment

  1. Three questions for NASA:  Dr. David Brain at the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) said that "We hope to witness two atmospheres colliding" in ScienceAtNASA's YouTube video "Colliding Atmospheres – Mars vs Comet Siding Spring."  Therefore my first question for NASA is:  (1.)  Will the gravitational pull of Mars, "colliding atmospheres," alter comet Siding Spring's course at all?   In Kelly Fast's first animation, 15:2515:57,  Phobos, Mars moon, appears to be a lot closer to Comet Siding Spring's coma and tail than the planet Mars.  (2.)  could Phobos' or its orbit be affected by comet Siding Spring in any way?   (3.)  Could the dust from comet Siding Spring's tail get caught up in Mars orbit leaving the planet looking much like Saturn, comet dust and particles circling the the red planet?   Thank you NASA for all the information you've provided thus far. 

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