Thursday 16 October 2014

NASA Is Preparing Mars Spacecraft For A Close Clash With The Comet

Mars Spacecraft
Comet Siding Spring which was discovered on January 2012, is expected to fly pass just 87,000 miles away which is 140,000 km wawy from Mars. This distance is merely half the distance between the Moon and Earth. This is expected to happen on the 13th of October. According to the NASA scientists, this is the first time any comet has passed nearly 10 times close to Earth. On Thursday, NASA announced in a conference, that they have already prepared themselves for the extremely rare and close encounter by the passing comet. This is will be done from the outer boundary of the solar system.

According to Padma Yanamandra-Fisher, Senior research scientist from Space Science Institute in Rancho Cucamonga, California, it is really hard to plan any mission for Oort Cloud comets, as they are not so sure about the behavior of that particular comet as well as the origin point of the comet. This comet is a very rare and special visitor from the far-away Oort Cloud.

The Oort cloud is a collection of the frozen remnants which were formed during the formation of the solar system. Comet Siding Spring which is supposed to be a first-time visitor in the inner part of the solar system was gravitationally thrown out of the solar system nearly a million years ago by a passing star. The comet is believed to be maintaining a distance from the Sun, similar to that of Mars, Saturn, Jupiter and even Neptune.

This first time movement of the comet has been named as water-ice line. During the initial stages, NASA was very much concerned with the fact that the dusty tail of the comet might interfere and become a threat to the spacecrafts orbiting around in the solar system as it passes by Mars.

During the latest assessments, the threat has been confirmed as much as 90% and based on these assessments, NASA has already made changes to the orbits of the satellites to ensure that they are behind the planet when the comet passes by.

According to Rich Zurek, a NASA Mars scientist and also working with Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, during this event, there are high chances that the remnant cloud might be very close to Mars and there are other chances of the comet completely missing Mars and will not leave any kind of particles. NASA’s current curiosity and the perfect opportunity is being protected by the fact that the atmosphere on Mars is very thin compared to Earth. NASA is very curious about this comet as it might lead to triggering of meteor showers.

Apart from India and the European Space Agency spacecraft orbiting the planet, NASA has two rovers apart from their three operational orbiters which are currently orbiting Mars. All of this probe is part of the study, which is based on a grand science campaign focusing on the comet during its contact time. NASA scientists are curious to learn about the impacts of the planet’s gravitational force on the comet and how the comet will be impacting the Mars atmosphere.

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