Home Science Space Will a comet hit Mars in 2014?

A recently-discovered comet may-well be on a collision-course with Mars in October next year.

Based on just 74 days of observation, Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) is projected to miss the red planet by just 109,200km during a fly-by in October next year.

Given the level of uncertainty, this is mighty-close to an impact.

All it would take is the most minor of errors on orbital measurement to cause the estimate to gobble up that tiny miss, turning it into a collision.

Already, estimates suggest that the comet (named for the Australian observatory where it was discovered) will make a good display from Earth, and a spectacular one from Mars, should there be anyone there to observe it (aside from the occasional surface rover, of course).

Should there be a collision, an impact akin to that which decimated the dinosaurs on Earth will result. This may-well affect the pie-in-the-sky plans to send a married couple on a round-trip mission to Mars in 2018.

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David Heath

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David Heath has over 25 years experience in the IT industry, specializing particularly in customer support, security and computer networking. Heath has worked previously as head of IT for The Television Shopping Network, as the network and desktop manager for Armstrong Jones (a major funds management organization) and has consulted into various Australian federal government agencies (including the Department of Immigration and the Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence). He has also served on various state, national and international committees for Novell Users International; he was also the organising chairman for the 1994 Novell Users' Conference in Brisbane. Heath is currently employed as an Instructional Designer, building technical training courses for industrial process control systems.

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