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NASA Snaps Shot of Mars-Bound Comet 38

coondoggie (973519) writes "NASA today released images of a comet that will make a pass within 84,000 miles of Mars — less than half the distance between Earth and the moon. NASA said the Hubble Space Telescope captured the image of comet C/2013 A1, also called Siding Spring, at a distance of 353 million miles from Earth. Hubble can't see Siding Spring's icy nucleus because of its minuscule size. The nucleus is surrounded by a glowing dust cloud that measures roughly 12,000 miles across, NASA said."
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NASA Snaps Shot of Mars-Bound Comet

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  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @08:20PM (#46598585)

    It takes a lot of idiots blowing their money and Starbucks and Banana Republic to generate the kind of economy you need pull of things like the Hubble Telescope.

  • by wisebabo ( 638845 ) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @11:37PM (#46599709) Journal

    If we are getting decent images from 353 million miles away how about when we take pictures from 84,000 miles? I mean we (the U.S.) will have 3 orbiters around Mars including MAVEN as well as two working landers. The Europeans have one or two and I think India has one on the way.

    Of course the Hubble is a really good telescope but the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has a camera that can see meter wide objects from orbit (it can see the landers, supposedly it has the best telescope ever sent to another world) so that's not too bad (and it will be a thousand times closer!). Perhaps we can send one of the older orbiters on a "suicide" mission to get really close! (fuel providing).

    On the other hand, I wonder what plans are being made to protect these assets from the "blizzard" of particles surrounding the comet? If the visible coma is 12,000 miles across even now, how large will the accompanying and expanding cloud of particles from the comet be? If it's on its outward trajectory from the sun, it might be pretty big since it will have had a lot more material being blown off of it. Will the space agencies try to arrange it so that their spacecraft are on the other side of the planet when it blows through? (If they had a lot of delta-V, I'd suggest they hide out behind one of the moons but I'm afraid that's science fiction for now). Will it go through the Mars system quickly enough to make this feasible?

    I'm sure this is all being worked out by people who are much smarter (and better trained) than I so I think we can look forward to a real scientific windfall (cometfall?) in October! :) It's really going to be something!

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