Saturday, 24 August 2013

Comet ISON to Fly by Mars

Around the world, astronomers are buzzing with anticipation over the approach of Comet ISON.  On Thanksgiving Day 2013, the icy visitor from the outer solar system will skim the sun's outer atmosphere and, if it survives, could emerge as one of the brightest comets in years.

First, though, it has to fly by Mars.

"Comet ISON is paying a visit to the Red Planet," says astronomer Carey Lisse of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab. "On Oct 1st, the comet will pass within 0.07 AU from Mars, about six times closer than it will ever come to Earth."

Mars Comet (splash)
A new ScienceCast video anticipates Comet ISON's close flyby of Mars on Oct. 1, 2013. Play it

Mars rovers and satellites will get a close-up view.  It’s too early to say whether Curiosity will be able to see the comet from the surface of Mars—that depends on how much ISON brightens between now and then. Lisse says the best bet is NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.  The MRO satellite is equipped with a powerful half-meter telescope named HiRISE that is more than capable of detecting the comet’s atmosphere and tail. Observations are planned on four dates: August 20th, Sept 29th, and Oct 1st and 2nd.

More - Link >>> http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/23aug_marsison/

Source: NASA Science News.

Current Position of Comet ISON:
Link >>> http://www.heavens-above.com/comet.aspx?cid=C%2F2012%20S1&lat=40.441&lng=-79.996&loc=Pittsburgh&alt=235&tz=EST

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