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MarsNews.com :: NewsWire :: General News

October 19, 2014

Comet Siding Spring whizzes past Mars Yahoo!
A comet the size of a small mountain whizzed past Mars on Sunday, dazzling space enthusiasts with the once-in-a-million-years encounter. The comet, known as Siding Spring (C/2013 A1), made its closest encounter with Mars on Sunday at 2:27 pm (1827 GMT), racing past the Red Planet at a breakneck 126,000 miles (203,000 kilometers) per hour. At its closest, Siding Spring was 87,000 miles (139,500 kilometers) from Mars -- less than half the distance between Earth and our moon.

October 17, 2014

How To Watch That 'Once-In-A-Lifetime' Comet Swing By Mars The Huffington Post
A comet will be swinging by Mars this Sunday, and eager astronomers say they're ready for the "once-in a lifetime event." Comet C/2013 A1, or 'Siding Spring' will make its closest approach to Mars at 2:27 p.m. EDT, coming within 87,000 miles of the red planet's surface . That's 16 times closer than any comet has ever come near Earth and less than half the distance from Earth to the moon. “This is a cosmic science gift that could potentially keep on giving, and the agency’s diverse science missions will be in full receive mode,” John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C., said in a written statement. “This particular comet has never before entered the inner solar system, so it will provide a fresh source of clues to our solar system's earliest days.” NASA will be tracking the spectacular flyby with a massive fleet of spacecraft and Earth-based telescopes.

October 13, 2014

Historic Flyby: Comet to Zoom By Mars This Weekend
A comet will buzz Mars this Sunday (Oct. 19) in an epic encounter that has astronomers around the world tingling with excitement. Comet Siding Spring, also known as C/2013 A1, will miss the Red Planet by just 87,000 miles (140,000 kilometers) at 2:27 p.m. EDT (1827 GMT) on Sunday. For comparison, the moon orbits Earth at an average distance of 239,000 miles (384,600 km). While the comet won't put on a show for skywatchers here on Earth, the fleet of robotic explorers at Mars will get an eyeful. They will study the comet, as well as any observable interactions between its shed particles and the thin Martian atmosphere.

October 9, 2014

Mars Comet Update
NASA will host a briefing to outline the space and Earth-based assets that will have extraordinary opportunities to image and study a comet from relatively close range to Mars on Sunday, Oct. 19. Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring will miss Mars by only about 88,000 miles (139,500 kilometers). That is less than half the distance between Earth and its moon and less than one-tenth the distance of any known comet flyby of Earth. The comet's nucleus will come closest to Mars at about 11:27 a.m. PDT (2:27 p.m. EDT), hurtling at about 126,000 mph (56 kilometers per second), relative to Mars. The concerted campaign of observations by multiple spacecraft at Mars and by numerous NASA assets is directed at the comet and its effect on the Martian atmosphere. The observations of the comet may yield fresh clues to our solar system's earliest days more than four billion years ago.

October 6, 2014

NASA Holds Briefing to Discuss Comet Flyby of Mars Observations
Artist's concept of comet Siding Spring (C/2013 A1) heading toward Mars. NASA will host a briefing at 11 a.m. PDT (2 p.m. EDT) Thursday, Oct. 9, to outline the space and Earth-based assets that will have extraordinary opportunities to image and study a comet from relatively close range to Mars on Sunday, Oct. 19. The briefing will be held at NASA Headquarters' and broadcast live on NASA Television and the agency's website. Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring will miss Mars by only about 88,000 miles (139,500 kilometers). That is less than half the distance between Earth and its moon and less than one-tenth the distance of any known comet flyby of Earth. The comet's nucleus will come closest to Mars at about 11:27 a.m. PDT (2:27 p.m. EDT), hurtling at about 126,000 mph (56 kilometers per second), relative to Mars.

October 3, 2014

Undergrad helps develop method to detect water on Mars Washington State University
A Washington State University undergraduate has helped develop a new method for detecting water on Mars. Her findings appear in Nature Communications, one of the most influential general science journals. Kellie Wall, 21, of Port Orchard, Wash., looked for evidence that water influenced crystal formation in basalt, the dark volcanic rock that covers most of eastern Washington and Oregon. She then compared this with volcanic rock observations made by the rover Curiosity on Mars’ Gale Crater. “This is really cool because it could potentially be useful for not only the study of rocks on Earth but on Mars and other planets,” said Wall.

October 2, 2014

India, U.S. Agree to Joint Exploration of Mars The Wall Street Journal
India’s satellite Mangalyaan has only been orbiting Mars for a week, but already space scientists back on Earth are planning their next mission: this time in tandem with the U.S. On Tuesday, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration signed an agreement to work with the Indian Space Research Organisation during future explorations of Mars. They also agreed to join forces in observations and scientific analysis from their respective satellites currently orbiting the red planet.

September 24, 2014

Mars Robotic Spacecraft Population Reaches New High IEEE Spectrum
September has shaped up to be a very exciting month in the annals of Mars exploration. Two new spacecraft, NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission and India's first interplanetary mission, the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), have now entered orbit around the Red Planet. The new arrivals bring the population of active Mars missions to seven—a record high, confirms Bruce Betts of The Planetary Society, a space advocacy organization. On the ground now are Opportunity, which landed in 2004, and NASA's Curiosity rover, which recently entered its third year of operation. MAVEN and MOM join a complement of three orbiters: NASA's 13-year-old Mars Odyssey spacecraft, the European Space Agency's 11-year-old Mars Express spacecraft, and NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which arrived in 2006.

August 25, 2014

Mars will not be as big as the moon WRAL
he decade-old “Mars Spectacular” rumor is making its way back into in-boxes and Facebook feeds. Claims that Mars will “as big as the full moon” and a “once in a lifetime experience” along with a striking image of twin moons over a Russian monastery are not true. Though Mars is about twice the diameter of the moon, the red planet is still too far to appear that large in our skies, even at the closest points in its orbit. This rumor is rooted in the Aug. 27, 2003, event when the orbits of Earth and Mars brought them within 34.6 million miles. It was a great time to view Mars with a moderately sized telescope. Early versions of the email rightly stated that Mars would look “as big as the full moon, when viewed through a telescope.” As the email was forwarded that last part was dropped or even replaced it with “to the naked eye.” The rumor resurfaced each August for the next several years and then mercifully went away for a few years. It’s back this year, driven by sharing on Facebook and other social media.

August 18, 2014

Thingiverse | Mars Base Challenge Winners MakerBot
We were pleased to receive a good number of #MakerBotMars challenge entries almost as soon as we announced it. But then, on the last day of the challenge, we were completely blown away as we watched the number of entries double, leaving us with loads of fascinating text to read, diagrams to analyze, and creative designs to print. Many entries went above and beyond the stated scope of the challenge, expanding into small worlds with many individual pieces. It was an embarrassment of 3D printed riches. The enthusiasm behind the contributions was palpable, and inspiring. Once we finished our test prints, we sent the results to our friends at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who used their expert knowledge and experience to help choose the winners. We’re happy to say that we fully agree with their input and we’re excited to award all of our winners with spools of MakerBot Filament and to give our first place winner a brand new MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer!

August 15, 2014

Mars Orbiters Duck for Cover Sky & Telescope
As Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring hurtles toward Mars, NASA is taking steps to protect its Martian orbiters. The plan? Use the planet itself as a shield between the spacecraft and the comet’s potentially dangerous debris. As part of its long-term Mars Exploration Program, NASA currently has two spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and Mars Odyssey, with Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) set to arrive in late September. Teams of scientists at the University of Maryland, the Planetary Science Institute, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) have used data from both Earth-based and space telescopes to model Siding Spring’s journey through the inner solar system, and determined that there is no risk of the comet colliding with Mars. However, at its closest approach to Mars on October 19, 2014, Siding Spring will come within 82,000 miles of the Red Planet, which is about a third of the distance from Earth to the Moon. The closest comets ever to whiz by Earth have been at least ten times more distant.

June 19, 2014

Comet’s Brush With Mars Offers Opportunity, Not Danger University of Maryland
Comet Siding Spring will brush astonishingly close to Mars later this year – close enough to raise concerns about the safety of three spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet. But after observing Siding Spring through a satellite-mounted telescope, University of Maryland comet experts found that it poses little danger to the Mars craft. The NASA spacecraft will be able to get an unprecedented close look at the changes happening to this “fresh” comet as it nears the sun – as well as any changes its passing may trigger in the Martian atmosphere. Fresh comets like Siding Spring, which have never before approached the sun, contain some of the most ancient material scientists can study. The UMD astronomers’ observations are part of a two-year-long research campaign to watch how the comet's activity changes during its travels.

May 14, 2014

Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and More: Don't Miss the Planet Parade in Tonight's Sky
f you go out tonight (May 14) about half an hour after sunset and have clear weather, you will see a number of bright objects in the sky. The brightest of these celestial lights are four of five planets visible to the naked eye this month, with the full moon completing the view — a sight you won't want to miss. To begin our planet parade in May's night sky, let's look low in the northwest. There you can find the tiny speck of Mercury, never far from the sun. You may need a binocular to spot it.

April 14, 2014

Monday's Big Space Day: See a Rocket Launch, Mars and Total Lunar Eclipse Online Yahoo!
Monday may be a dream come true for space fans, with a rocket launch, Mars and total lunar eclipse aligned in a truly epic cosmic triple play of live webcasts online. 'Space Monday': Total lunar eclipse, rocket launch, brush with Mars Yahoo News Mars Makes Closest Approach to Earth in 6 Years Monday Ahead of Lunar Eclipse SPACE.com SpaceX 'Go' for Dragon Cargo Ship Launch to Space Station Monday SPACE.com Tax Day Total Lunar Eclipse Kicks Off Blood Moon 'Tetrad' SPACE.com SpaceX to Launch Robotic Capsule to Space Station Next Week SPACE.com The events of Space Monday (April 14) begin in the late afternoon, when the private spaceflight company SpaceX will launch a robotic Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station. Once darkness falls, stargazers with clear skies can see Mars at its brightest (the Red Planet makes its closest approach to Earth since 2008 Monday), followed by a total eclipse of the moon in the overnight hours. Here's how to watch the events live online:

April 8, 2014

Awesome alignment: Mars, Earth, sun to line up Tuesday
Skywatchers will get a rare treat Tuesday night when Mars, Earth and the sun will be arranged in a nearly straight line. Every two years, Mars reaches a point in its orbit called "opposition," when the planet lies directly opposite the sun in Earth's sky, according to Astronomy magazine. This means Mars rises near sunset and remains visible all night long as it moves nearly overhead across the night sky. It will be a bright burnt orange color, NASA's Mars Exploration Program reports, and almost 10 times brighter than the brightest stars in the sky. "From our perspective on our spinning world, Mars rises in the east just as the sun sets in the west," NASA reports. "Then, after staying up in the sky the entire night, Mars sets in the west just as the sun rises in the east."


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