~ Nooooo! Not the Face! ~

Nadya Johnson

Joined January 2009

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A light look

(Featured in IMAGE WRITING)

Inspired by Space.com (Could a Comet Hit Mars in 2014? Discovery News)

According to astronomers, a comet is on a collision course with Mars. (For real!) The comet, named C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring), was spotted at the start of this year by Robert McNaught at the Siding Spring Observatory in New South Wales, Australia.

Calculations put the closest approach of the comet at a distance of 37,000 km from Mars in October of this year. Most estimates put it much further out. Sounds far enough away… but word has it there is still a chance the comet might collide with the red planet.

Ian O’Neill from Discovery Space told NBC News it’s too early to know if a collision will take place. Either way astronomers, professional and amateur alike, are bracing for a spectacular scene.

However, it’s much more likely that the comet will do what it’s currently predicted to do: pass about 37,000 km from the planet’s surface. That outcome wouldn’t mean that the Red Planet (and our equipment there) would get off completely unscathed.

Since this is a comet and not a simple asteroid, there will be a large halo of debris, melt, gases and other loose objects trailing alongside the central nucleus called the comet’s “coma.” The coma of Siding Spring is estimated to be at least 100,000 km wide, meaning it will almost certainly touch Mars.

This means even if the planet isn’t hit by the comet’s nucleus, it will be showered with small objects flying at 55 km/s. If these objects are small enough, they will burn up and create an amazing light show. However, if they are slightly larger, the debris could cause impacts each similar small meteor that hit Russia in February. Both of these scenarios would pale in comparison to a direct impact from the comet, but could easily damage scientific equipment on the planet and in orbit.

Dunno about the Face, or those ruins at Cydonia!

Read more here at NASA

(Photoshop Creation)

Artwork Comments

  • Karen  Helgesen
  • Nadya Johnson
  • Peter Stratton
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