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IRON AND ICE
Mars Orbiter Image Shows Comet Nucleus is Small
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Oct 23, 2014


These images were taken of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on Oct. 19, 2014, during the comet's close flyby of Mars and the spacecraft. Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona.

The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured views of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring while that visitor sped past Mars on Sunday (Oct. 19), yielding information about its nucleus.

The images are the highest-resolution views ever acquired of a comet coming from the Oort Cloud at the fringes of the solar system.

Other spacecraft have approached and studied comets with shorter orbits. This comet's flyby of Mars provided spacecraft at the Red Planet an opportunity to investigate from close range.

Images of comet Siding Spring from HiRISE are online at: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA18618

The highest-resolution of images of the comet's nucleus, taken from a distance of about 86,000 miles (138,000 kilometers), have a scale of about 150 yards (138 meters) per pixel.

Telescopic observers had modeled the size of the nucleus as about half a mile, or one kilometer wide.

However, the best HiRISE images show only two to three pixels across the brightest feature, probably the nucleus, suggesting a size smaller than half that estimate.


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IRON AND ICE
Mars Odyssey Orbiter Watches Comet Fly Near
Pasadena CA (JPL) Oct 20, 2014
The longest-lived robot ever sent to Mars came through its latest challenge in good health, reporting home on schedule after sheltering behind Mars from possible comet dust. NASA's Mars Odyssey was out of communications with Earth, as planned, while conducting observations of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring on Sunday, Oct. 19, as the comet flew near Mars. The comet sped within about 88,000 m ... read more


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