“On October 19th, we’re going to observe an event that happens maybe once every million years.” – Dr. Jim Green, director of NASA’s planetary science division
NASA is gearing up for the opportunity of a lifetime, one that could yield new information about the conditions that shaped our solar system and the atmosphere on Mars. In just one week, Comet Siding Spring, also known as C/2013 A1, will make its first trip through the inner solar system and pass within 87,000 miles (139,500 kilometers) of the Martian surface—approximately one-third the distance between Earth and the moon.
Siding Spring gets its name from Australia’s Siding Spring Observatory, where astronomer Rob McNaught discovered the comet in 2013. Since Siding Spring comes from the Oort Cloud (and this happens to be the comet’s first “heat-treatment”), it is likely that the comet remains largely unchanged since its formation nearly 4.6 billion years ago. This creates an opportunity for scientists to study the composition and behavior of an object very similar to those that filled the early solar system, which could provide further clues about the conditions that existed when the solar system first formed.
NASA’s Mars orbiters and rovers are preparing to study both the comet and its effect on Mars’ atmosphere. By studying how the comet interacts with the Red Planet’s air, scientists hope to gain a better understanding of the Martian atmosphere, in addition to data about the comet itself.
The image below shows the Mars rovers and orbiters—including the newly arrived MAVEN spacecraft—that NASA is planning to utilize in studying Comet Siding Spring.
More than 100 for-profit colleges are so dependent on taxpayer money that they’d be violating the law if not for a loophole, according to a never-released analysis by the Department of Education we obtained.
"A small spacecraft carrying a swarm of "chipsats" the size of postage stamps could someday explore Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa. NASA has funded early development of the unusual mission idea as it looks toward future space exploration of planets and moons that may contain both water and extraterrestrial life."
Imagine seeding the galaxy with something like this? Give us 100 years and the sophistication of such a tiny device could actually delivery life to other galaxies.
Perhaps that’s what another civilization did, and that’s why we’re here.