Comet to make close flyby of Red Planet in October 2014

Apr 15, 2013
This computer graphic depicts the orbit of comet 2013 A1 (Siding Spring) through the inner solar system. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

New observations of comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) have allowed NASA's Near-Earth Object Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. to further refine the comet's orbit.

Based on data through April 7, 2013, the latest orbital plot places the comet's closest approach to Mars slightly closer than previous estimates, at about 68,000 miles (110,000 kilometers).

At the same time, the new data set now significantly reduces the probability the comet will impact the , from about 1 in 8,000 to about 1 in 120,000.

The latest estimated time for close approach to Mars is about 11:51 a.m. PDT (18:51 UTC) on Oct. 19, 2014.

At the time of closest approach, the comet will be on the sunward side of the planet.

Explore further: Cassini: Return to Rhea

More information: Future observations of the comet are expected to refine the orbit further. The most up-to-date close-approach data can be found at: ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb.cgi?sstr… og=0;cad=1;rad=0#cad .

Related Stories

Is a comet on a collision course with Mars?

Feb 27, 2013

There is an outside chance that a newly discovered comet might be on a collision course with Mars. Astronomers are still determining the trajectory of the comet, named C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring), but at the ...

NASA spacecraft on final approach toward comet

Nov 02, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The EPOXI mission spacecraft has refined its path toward a Nov. 4 flyby of comet Hartley 2, successfully performing its final maneuver today at 8 a.m. PDT (11 a.m. EDT). The spacecraft burned ...

NASA prepares for EPOXI mission comet flyby

Oct 28, 2010

In one of its final mission trajectory correction maneuvers, the EPOXI mission spacecraft has refined its orbit, preparing it for the flyby of comet Hartley 2 on Nov. 4. The time of closest approach to the ...

NASA's EPOXI mission sets up for comet flyby

Sep 30, 2010

Earlier yesterday, navigators and mission controllers for NASA's EPOXI mission watched their computer screens as 23.6 million kilometers (14.7 million miles) away, their spacecraft successfully performed its ...

Recommended for you

Total lunar eclipse before dawn on April 4th

59 minutes ago

An unusually brief total eclipse of the Moon will be visible before dawn this Saturday, April 4th, from western North America. The eclipse happens on Saturday evening for Australia and East Asia.

Cassini: Return to Rhea

13 hours ago

After a couple of years in high-inclination orbits that limited its ability to encounter Saturn's moons, NASA's Cassini spacecraft returned to Saturn's equatorial plane in March 2015.

Comet dust—planet Mercury's 'invisible paint'

21 hours ago

A team of scientists has a new explanation for the planet Mercury's dark, barely reflective surface. In a paper published in Nature Geoscience, the researchers suggest that a steady dusting of carbon from p ...

It's 'full spin ahead' for NASA soil moisture mapper

Mar 30, 2015

The 20-foot (6-meter) "golden lasso" reflector antenna atop NASA's new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory is now ready to wrangle up high-resolution global soil moisture data, following the successful ...

What drives the solar cycle?

Mar 30, 2015

You can be thankful that we bask in the glow of a relatively placid star. Currently about halfway along its 10 billion year career on the Main Sequence, our sun fuses hydrogen into helium in a battle against ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

VendicarE
5 / 5 (1) Apr 15, 2013
Bummer that it is on the sunward side.
flashgordon
5 / 5 (2) Apr 15, 2013
We have orbiters and rovers to watch this!
Jeddy_Mctedder
1 / 5 (2) Apr 15, 2013
bummer god (nasa) cannot not step in and make this smash into mars.

we're about 1000 years from having the technology to steer an asteroid of this mass and speed into mars given a single years worth of warning. nuclear rockets anyone?
marble89
not rated yet Apr 16, 2013
Interesting to note that the comet has a near hyperbolic retrograde orbit. This means if it did hit mars it would do so at very high velocity. In fact it would probably blast material/atmosphere into space several times its own mass

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.