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Waspie_Dwarf

Mars Craft Maneuvers for Close Comet Flyby

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NASA’s Mars Spacecraft Maneuvers to Prepare for Close Comet Flyby

NASA is taking steps to protect its Mars orbiters, while preserving opportunities to gather valuable scientific data, as Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring heads toward a close flyby of Mars on Oct. 19.

The comet’s nucleus will miss Mars by about 82,000 miles (132,000 kilometers), shedding material hurtling at about 35 miles (56 kilometers) per second, relative to Mars and Mars-orbiting spacecraft. At that velocity, even the smallest particle -- estimated to be about one-fiftieth of an inch (half a millimeter) across -- could cause significant damage to a spacecraft.

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Orbiter Completes Maneuver to Prepare for Comet Flyby

MISSION STATUS REPORT

NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft has successfully adjusted the timing of its orbit around Mars as a defensive precaution for a comet's close flyby of Mars on Oct. 19, 2014.

The orbiter fired thrusters for five and a half seconds on Tuesday, Aug. 5. The maneuver was calculated to place the orbiter behind Mars during the half hour on the flyby date when dust particles released from comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring are most likely to reach Mars. The nucleus of the comet will miss Mars by about one-third of the distance between Earth and Earth's moon.

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