Newly Discovered Comet on Collision Course With Mars

Sliding Spring

I’m really happy I don’t live on Mars right now.

A newly discovered comet, spotted on January 3 by Scottish-Australian astronomer Robert H. McNaught, is making a dangerously close pass by Mars in 2014, reports Comet C/2013 A1 (Sliding Spring) has a trajectory headed straight for the red planet and, according to the NEO Program Office, can swing by as close as 31,000 miles from its surface on October 14, 2014.

Sliding Spring is between 5 and 30 miles wide and originates from the Oort Cloud and will be visiting our solar system for the very first time. It is still too soon to get an exact estimate of the proximity it will make, but it could end up being farther or closer. There is even a remote chance that the comet will collide with Mars.

“The possibility of an impact cannot be excluded,” NASA said in a press release.

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From Earth, the comet won’t visible to the naked eye, but the southern hemisphere may get a view of it with binoculars or a telescope in September.

If the comet does collide with Mars, it would create an impact crater of up the 10 times the diameter of the comet, up to 1.25 miles deep and with an energy equivalent of up to 2×10^10 megatons. Imagine: that could easily have been us if we were positioned in the sky at just the right position. Sorry Mars.

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