Comet to make close flyby of Red Planet in October 2014

April 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: NASA's EPOXI mission sets up for comet flyby

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=C%2F2013%20A1;orb=0;cov=0;log=0;cad=1;rad=0#cad .

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4 comments

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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

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