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Comet Siding Spring Coma Observation
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Comet Siding Spring Coma Observation

Acquired Date: October 19, 2014
Release Date: October 24, 2014
Latitude: 0.00 N
Longitude: 0.00 E
Keywords: Ices, Other Location, Space
Parameters: N/A

These two infrared images of C/2013, otherwise known as Comet Siding Spring, were taken on Oct. 19, 2014. Comet Siding Spring - an Oort Cloud comet that may contain material from the formation of the solar system some 4.6 billion years ago - was making its first voyage through the inner solar system. CRISM and many other instruments and spacecraft combined to provide an unprecedented data set for an Oort Cloud comet.



These two infrared images of C/2013, otherwise known as Comet Siding Spring, were taken on Oct. 19, 2014. Comet Siding Spring - an Oort Cloud comet that may contain material from the formation of the solar system some 4.6 billion years ago - was making its first voyage through the inner solar system. CRISM and many other instruments and spacecraft combined to provide an unprecedented data set for an Oort Cloud comet.

CRISM acquired the first image just prior to the comet's closest approach to Mars when it came within roughly 88,000 miles of the planet! The second image was taken 37 minutes later, during which the comet - traveling at approximately 34 miles per second - had traversed one-third of the way across the Martian sky. The scale of the left image is roughly 4 kilometers per pixel while the right image is about 5 kilometers per pixel. The images, which have had brightness and color enhancements, provide very different perspectives on this intriguing comet. The images show the inner part of the cloud of dust, called the coma, that is generated around the nucleus by the warmth of the sun. The appearance of color variations in the inner coma could be due to the properties of the comet's dust, possibly dust grain size or composition.

Disclaimer: Colors shown here represent indicators of mineralogy and are not what the human eye would see.

Acknowledgements: MRO and CRISM

The Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) is one of six science instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Led by The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the CRISM team includes expertise from universities, government agencies and small businesses in the United States and abroad.

CRISM's mission: Find the spectral fingerprints of aqueous and hydrothermal deposits and map the geology, composition and stratigraphy of surface features. The instrument also tracks seasonal variations in dust and ice aerosols in the Martian atmosphere, and water content in surface materials — leading to new understanding of the climate.

Credit: NASA/JPL/JHUAPL

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