Friday, 10 October 2014

NASA TV to Capture Comet's Epic Flyby of Mars


NASA will hosted a briefing yesterday, Oct. 9, to outline the space and Earth-based assets that will have extraordinary opportunities to image and study Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring will miss Mars by only about 88,000 miles (139,500 kilometers). That is less than half the distance between Earth and its moon and less than one-tenth the distance of any known comet flyby of Earth. The comet's nucleus will come closest to Mars at about 11:27 a.m. PDT (2:27 p.m. EDT) on Sunday, Oct. 19, hurtling at about 126,000 mph (56 kilometers per second), relative to Mars.

The concerted campaign of observations by multiple spacecraft at Mars and by numerous NASA assets is directed at the comet and its effect on the Martian atmosphere. The observations of the comet may yield fresh clues to our solar system's earliest days more than four billion years ago.

"On October 19, we're going to observe an event that happens maybe once every million years," Jim Green, director of NASA's planetary science division, said during a news conference today (Oct. 9). "We're getting ready for a spectacular set of observations."

The briefing will be held at NASA Headquarters' and broadcast live on NASA Television and the agency's website.

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