Astrophotographers are capturing wonderful images of Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring, including this one of the comet near the ringed galaxy NGC 1291 on August 2. This is the comet that will pass extremely near the planet Mars on October 19, 2014 – some 10 times closer than any known comet has passed to Earth. It won’t strike Mars, but NASA has expressed concern about the potential for the comet’s trail of dust to damage our spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet. The space agency has taken steps to minimize any possible damage.
There’s also the hope we might use the rovers on Mars’ surface to acquire images of the comet. That would be cool.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.