Today, Comet Siding Spring flies by Mars. Here are the stories about the event that I included in the past two Overnight News Digests on Daily Kos.
JPL/NASA: Comet Siding Spring: A Close Encounter with Mars
Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring will make a very close flyby of Mars on Oct. 19, 2014. Passing at a distance of only 87,000 miles (by comparison that's little more than 1/3 the distance between Earth and our moon), it’ll be a near miss of the Red Planet. Find out how NASA’s Mars orbiters will evade the onslaught of dust particles from the comet.Space.com via LiveScience: Comet's Mars Flyby Sunday Has Scientists Abuzz
By Mike Wall, Senior Writer
October 17, 2014 11:06am ET
A comet's close shave with Mars this weekend could reveal some key insights about the Red Planet and the solar system's early days, researchers say.Follow over the jump for the rest of the Mars news since MAVEN at Mars from the University of Colorado, including a video and story about MAVEN.
Comet Siding Spring will zoom within 87,000 miles (139,500 kilometers) of Mars at 2:27 p.m. EDT (1827 GMT) on Sunday (Oct. 19). Scientists will observe the flyby using the fleet of spacecraft at Mars, studying the comet and any effects its particles have on the planet's thin atmosphere.
"On Oct. 19, we're going to observe an event that happens maybe once every million years," Jim Green, director of NASA's planetary science division, said in a news conference earlier this month. "This is an absolutely spectacular event."
Science at NASA: ScienceCasts: First Light for MAVEN
NASA's MAVEN spacecraft has reached Mars and it is beaming back "First Light" images of the Red Planet's upper atmosphere. The data could help researchers understand what transformed Mars from a hospitable planet billions of years ago into a desiccated wasteland today.University of Colorado: MAVEN spacecraft’s first look at Mars holds surprises, says CU-Boulder mission leader
October 14, 2014
NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft has provided scientists their first look at a storm of energetic solar particles at Mars and produced unprecedented ultraviolet images of the tenuous oxygen, hydrogen and carbon coronas surrounding the Red Planet, said University of Colorado Boulder Professor Bruce Jakosky, the mission’s principal investigator.Finally, some Curiosity news from JPL: Curiosity Rover Report: A Taste of Mount Sharp (Sept. 25, 2014).
In addition, the new observations allowed scientists to make a comprehensive map of highly variable ozone in the Martian atmosphere underlying the coronas, he said. The spacecraft entered Mars’ orbit Sept. 21 and is in the process of lowering its orbit and testing its instruments. The $671 million Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN mission, or MAVEN, was launched toward Mars on Nov. 18, 2013, to help solve the mystery of how the Red Planet lost most of its atmosphere.
“Everything is performing well so far,” said Jakosky of CU-Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. “All of the instruments have now been turned on, and although they are not yet fully checked out, they are functioning nominally.
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has collected its first drill sample from the base of Mount Sharp. The scientific allure of the layered mountain inside a crater drew the team to choose this part Mars as its landing site.Stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment entry.