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NASA’s extensive fleet of science assets, particularly those orbiting and roving Mars, are all set to to click and study a once-in-a-lifetime comet flyby on October 19.
Comet C/2013 A1, popularly known as comet Siding Spring, is going to pass within the range of about 139,500 km of Mars, the American space agency reported.
According to NASA scientists, the distance between the comet and the Mars is going to be less than half the distance between Earth and its satellite the Moon and also less than one-tenth of the distance of any of the Earth’s known comet flyby.
The spatial experts say this proximity will offer an unprecedented opportunity to the space researchers to collect valuable data about the comet, its encounter with the Red Planet and finaly its effect on the Martian atmosphere.
The space agency further said that the comet’s nucleus will come closest to the Red Planet on Sunday when it would be moving at a speed of 56 km per second.
Welcoming the incredible scientific opportunity, astronaut John Grunsfeld said, “This is a cosmic science gift that could potentially keep on giving, and the diverse science missions of the space agency will be in full receive mode.”
Grunsfeld is an associate administrator for Science Mission Directorate of NASA in Washington, DC.
According to Grunsfeld , as the comet is new to our inner solar system, it is surely going to be a great and fresh source of clues to the earliest days of our solar system.
Siding Spring has come from the Oort Cloud which is a spherical region of space that surrounds the Sun and occupies space at a distance between 5,000 and 100,000 astronomical units.
Moreover, it will be the first comet, coming from the Oort Cloud , which will be closely studied by the spacecraft. It will provide scientists with an incredible opportunity to learn more about the materials like water and carbon compounds, that helped in the formation of the solar system about 4.6 billion years ago.