Hubble Eyes Mars-Bound Comet

Posted: March 29, 2014 by tallbloke in solar system dynamics

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Siding Spring will whizz by close to Mars

Lights in the Dark

Hubble image of comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring), before and after processing. Credit: NASA, ESA, and J.-Y. Li (Planetary Science Institute)Hubble image of comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring), before and after processing. Credit: NASA, ESA, and J.-Y. Li (Planetary Science Institute)

Comet Siding Spring won’t hit Mars on October 19 but it will come really, really close: 86,000 miles, or just a bit over 1/3 the distance between the Moon and Earth. That’s like having a bullet from a sniper positioned a mile away knock your hat off! (Given that you were the target of a military-class sniper, not sure why you would be. Is there something I don’t know about you?) And while it won’t get bright enough or close enough to Earth to become a spectacle in our night sky, exploration robots on and around Mars should be in for quite a show.

Earlier this month, as Siding Spring (aka C/2013 A1) passed within the orbit of Jupiter, the Hubble Space Telescope turned its gaze onto it and…

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Comments
  1. oldbrew says:

    It has an eccentricity greater than 1 so its path is a parabola in theory, meaning it won’t be returning any time soon.

    Wikipedia describes its ‘orbit’ as ‘several million years inbound’.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C/2013_A1