NASA prepares Mars orbiters for approaching comet in October

July 29, 2014 11:31 AM

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NASA prepares Mars orbiters for approaching comet in October

This autumn a remarkable other-worldly happening will take place: Mars will have a close encounter with Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring, which approaches the Sun for the first time in its existence, according to information provided by NASA. This event has a special significance for the scientific community, mainly due to the remarcably short distance between the surface of Mars and the comet at its most critical moment. It is expected that in October 19 the comet’s flyby will be at only 82,000 miles, which is less than 10 % the distance experienced by any known Earthly similar cosmic experience.

For NASA, the comet’s passage is a unique opportunity to gather new data regarding a comet’s structure, composition or dynamics, 3 spacecrafts being expected to be involved in this celestial “rendezvous”. The adventure could swing both ways however, the comet’s shedding material posing a great dang...

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