It was the closest comet near-miss known to astronomers, but everything is alright.
Comet Siding Spring shaved past a planet’s surface at one third the distance of the Earth to the moon. But it wasn’t Earth in the cross hairs — it was our neighbor Mars.
Earth got lucky in more than one way. With a gang of NASA orbiters and rovers on and around Mars, their cameras and instruments got a historic front row seat on the comet that NASA said made the closest recorded pass ever by any planet.
The three orbiters are just coming out of hiding.
The comet came so close that Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) had to duck and cover on the other side of the planet.
Otherwise, Siding Spring’s debris of dust and gas flying at 126,000 miles per hour just 87,000 miles above Mars’…
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