Banner on NASA’s Mars Exploration Webpage. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA’s Mars orbiters will line up behind Mars on 19 Oct 2014 in a “duck and cover” maneuver as comet Siding Spring (C/2013 A1) flys-by Mars at about 126,000 mph (56 km/s – that’s really fast!). The comet will pass about 87,000 mi (139,500 km) from Mars, shedding debris that could damage the spacecraft if they were to be struck by it.
“NASA is taking steps to protect its Mars orbiters, while preserving opportunities to gather valuable scientific data. The NASA orbiters at Mars are Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Odyssey and MAVEN.”
Imagery from several different articles about the comet fly-by are presented below:
Artist’s concept shows NASA’s Mars orbiters lining up behind Mars to shield them from comet dust from the close flyby of comet Siding Spring (C/2013 A1) on 19 Oct 2014. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA’s extensive fleet of science assets, particularly those orbiting and roving Mars, have front row seats to image and study a once-in-a-lifetime comet flyby on Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014. Comet C/2013 A1, also known as comet Siding Spring, will pass within about 87,000 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. Several NASA assets pictures here will observe the comet. Image credit: NASA
Comet Siding Spring orbit and Mars fly-by. Credit: Near-Earth Object (NEO) office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Click image to see real-time location of the comet.)
This graphic depicts the orbit of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring as it swings around the sun in 2014. On Oct. 19, the comet will have a very close pass at Mars, just 82,000 miles (132,000 kilometers) from the planet. Although the nucleus will miss the planet, the comet’s coma of dust particles might be wide enough to reach the Red Planet. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
An artist’s concept of Comet Siding Spring (2013 A1) and Mars. Closest approach to Mars is on October 19, 2014. Image credit: NASA
The images above show — before and after filtering — comet C/2013 A1, also known as Siding Spring, as captured by Wide Field Camera 3 on NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and J.-Y. Li (Planetary Science Institute)
Artist Steven Hobbs impression of the Opportunity Mars Exploration Rover. witnessing the Comet encounter.