Hubble Spots Mars-Bound Comet Sprouting Multiple Jets

Posted on March 27, 2014

Hubble image of Siding Spring comet taken on March 11 2014


Hubble has spotted a Mars-bound comet sprouting multiple jets. NASA reports that the comet will pass within 84,000 miles of Mars on October 19th. This is less than half the distance between Earth and the moon. The above image shows comet C/2013 A1 before filtering and the image below shows it after processing. This comet is also known by the name Siding Spring.

The comet was located 353 million miles from Earth when it was captured by Hubble on March 11th. A glowing dust cloud, called a COMA, surrounds Siding Spring's icy nucleus.

The comet was first discovered in January 2013 by Robert H. McNaught at Siding Spring Observatory. It is currently falling toward the sun in a 1 million year orbit.

Filtered Hubble image of Siding Spring comet taken on March 11 2014


Photos: NASA, ESA, and J.-Y. Li (Planetary Science Institute)