Sunday, October 19, 2014

Comet Siding Spring C2013 A1 has flown past Mars

Comet Siding Spring has made a close pass with Mars, the Red Planet, flying only 87,000 miles (139,500 kilometers) from the surface. 

Mars is seen as a bright object in these images because of the sun.

Officials monitoring spacecraft orbiting Mars maneuvered them into safe positions on the furthest side of the planet, so that they did not experience any ill affects from the icy wanderer's dust.

An hour after the passing of the comet, observers are awaiting the bombardment of the Mars atmosphere by the debris ejected from the comet's tail.

Mars is, in this image the much brighter object. Siding Spring - here, it's marked in red. 

Credit: ESA/M. Micheli/D. Abreu

This image of comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) at 4.8 arcminutes from Mars, as seen on 2014 October 19 at 20:20 UT via ESA's Optical Ground Station, equipped with a 1-meter telescope, on Tenerife, Canary Islands.

North is to the left of the frame. The comet was imaged under poor sky conditions, while it was 17° above the southwestern horizon.

High humidity and strong winds also affected the image quality, giving a "fuzzy" appearance to the nearby stars.

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