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Comet C/2013 A1 May Hit Mars In 2014

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the big-boom dept.

Mars 150

astroengine writes "According to preliminary orbital prediction models, comet C/2013 A1 will buzz Mars on Oct. 19, 2014. C/2013 A1 was discovered by ace comet-hunter Robert McNaught at the Siding Spring Observatory in New South Wales, Australia, on Jan. 3. When the discovery was made, astronomers at the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona looked back over their observations to find "prerecovery" images of the comet dating back to Dec. 8, 2012. These observations placed the orbital trajectory of comet C/2013 A1 through Mars orbit on Oct. 19, 2014. Due to uncertainties in the observations — the comet has only been observed for 74 days (so far), so it's difficult for astronomers to forecast the comet's precise location in 20 months time — comet C/2013 A1 may fly past at a very safe distance of 0.008 AU (650,000 miles). But to the other extreme, its orbital pass could put Mars directly in its path."

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OH NO! DUCK CURIOSITY!! (4, Funny)

jrmcc (703725) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008215)

Keep your head down.

Re:OH NO! DUCK CURIOSITY!! (4, Funny)

cod3r_ (2031620) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008413)

The one spot it ends up landing happens to be on the multi million dollar mars rover. That would be something.

Re:OH NO! DUCK CURIOSITY!! (2)

jargonburn (1950578) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008629)

Indeed! It would be proof! Of something. Not sure what, exactly. I'll have to think that one over.

Re:OH NO! DUCK CURIOSITY!! (4, Interesting)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#43009369)

The one spot it ends up landing happens to be on the multi million dollar mars rover. That would be something.

Well, I hope it won't, because if it hits, it might make for some really interesting changes in weather for the (surviving) rover to observe:

With the current estimate of the absolute magnitude of the nucleus M2 = 10.3, which might indicate the diameter of over 50 km, the energy of impact might reach the equivalent of staggering 2×10 megatonnes! This kind of event can leave a crater 500 km across and 2 km deep. (link [spaceobs.org] )

But it's quite sure to say that witnessing such impact is just wishful thinking.

Re:OH NO! DUCK CURIOSITY!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43010579)

That is exceptionally large for a comet nucleus, as I think the largest one observed to date to cross within Jupiter's orbit was Hale-Bopp at about 60 km across, and everything else that has been in the inner solar system was 30 km across or smaller.

Exciting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43008253)

Our probes could either have a very good seat, or a very BAD seat for the show...

Better him than me. (4, Funny)

jcrb (187104) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008289)

Said the Earth.

Re:Better him than me. (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008593)

You must work in the same bureaucracy I do

Re:Better him than me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43008983)

Said the Earth, before witnessing the comet narrowly miss mars, only to be redirected directly to earth.

Re:Better him than me. (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#43009465)

Said the Earth.

A near miss of Mars could possibly put Earth at point blank range.

If it passes close enough to Mars that C/2013 A1's orbit is affected, it could conceivably put it on a collusion course for earth, we would have very little time to react to that.

It might be safer for all concerned if it did hit Mars.

Re:Better him than me. (3, Informative)

goodmanj (234846) | about a year and a half ago | (#43009775)

Absolutely impossible. It encounters Mars when it's closest to the sun: a basic principle of orbital mechanics is that applying a force at a given location changes the object's position at the *opposite* side of the orbit. So encountering Mars just makes the furthest part of its orbit (which is waaaaaaaaaaaaaay out beyond Pluto) a little closer or farther.

Re:Better him than me. (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#43010919)

Absolutely impossible. It encounters Mars when it's closest to the sun: a basic principle of orbital mechanics is that applying a force at a given location changes the object's position at the *opposite* side of the orbit. So encountering Mars just makes the furthest part of its orbit (which is waaaaaaaaaaaaaay out beyond Pluto) a little closer or farther.

If you are talking about applying force to an object in orbit around the sun, that seems logical enough.

Mars is not what C/2013A1 is orbiting, but all of a sudden there is this huge gravity well (Mars) in its path that wasn't there before.

Is there any possible a close encounter to Mars that might cause C/2013A1 to act as if it were orbiting mars, (at least for half a rev duration of that single pass)? And if so, just how much can Mars deflect the orbit of C/2013A1 from what it might have been for centuries?

Surely there must be some approach to mars that might be close enough to perturb the asteroid's orbit.
For that matter, might not the recent pass by earth deflected C/2013A1 somewhat?

An interesting article [theregister.co.uk] I saw about a year ago suggested that Earth Mood Sun combination is constantly deflecting small near earth objects in wild paths, which sometimes loop between earth and the moon, and sometimes give Earth additional minimoons, occasionally for decades.

Disclaimer: I have No clue where Earth might be at that predicted time of the Mars encounter. (And I'm too lazy to look it up). ;-/

Re:Better him than me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43011639)

The comet is going retrograde (opposite direction of Mars) with its closest approach to the sun really close to the same time when it reaches Mars. With Mars and the comet essentially traveling in directly opposite directions with not much radial movement at that point in the comet's orbit, gravitational slingshot won't be able to slow down the comet, only speed it up. The comet is already going pretty close to escape velocity for the Sun's gravity well, so if it is speed up much at all, definitely as it would if deflected to come within Earth's orbit, it would be flung out of the solar system. So it would have one chance of hitting Earth before never coming back. And from the looks of the layout of the solar system at that time, it would have to pass pretty close to the sun to do so.

Regardless, if I did my math correct, then the maximum deflection the comet can experience from gravity alone would be about half a degree, assuming it just grazes the surface of the planet in process. Maybe some braking effect could help that a little, but I would guess it would be pretty hard to remove the amount of kinetic energy needed to allow for a much sharper turn would probably destroy it.

Re:Better him than me. (1)

goodmanj (234846) | about a year and a half ago | (#43011751)

Mars's gravitational pull is the force I was talking about.

The effect you're describing is a "gravity assist" or "slingshot" maneuver. It certainly would change the comet's orbit, but there's a limit that depends on the mass of the planet and how close you get to it -- and thus on the planet's size. For Mars, this limit is pretty small.

Re:Better him than me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43011353)

All in general as I'm not familiar with the particular orbit, however...

1. Plenty of Earth between the Sun and Pluto, in fact all of Earth is between the Sun and Pluto...

2. Orbital mechanics does not work as you described at all. Your description is flat out wrong even for mundane orbital changes; you've taken the fact that only the "point" of change between to different orbits is guaranteed to be common to both of them and turned that fact onto it's head leading you to total nonsense.

3. You can do all sorts of counter-intuitive stuff with gravitational slingshots including going in the opposite direction at higher or lower speed (both are possible depending on what kind of slingshot you go for). We know that since we've done most such manoeuvres on purpose with our artificial satellites.

Re:Better him than me. (1)

goodmanj (234846) | about a year and a half ago | (#43011733)

2. What I say is true. Go play this game a while and get back to me.

https://kerbalspaceprogram.com/ [kerbalspaceprogram.com]

3. I'm aware of the counterintuitive stuff you can do with orbital slingshots. However, the maximum amount of velocity change you can get from a gravity assist by Mars is around 330 m/s (Niehoff, J. Spacecraft, 1966). To bring the side of the orbit opposite Mars from the Oort cloud down to Earth's orbit, you'll need to dump tens of thousands of m/s of orbital speed.

http://www.gravityassist.com/IAF3-2/Ref.%203-140.pdf [gravityassist.com]

Re:Better him than me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43011049)

Said the Earth.

A near miss of Mars could possibly put Earth at point blank range.

If it passes close enough to Mars that C/2013 A1's orbit is affected, it could conceivably put it on a collusion course for earth, we would have very little time to react to that.

It might be safer for all concerned if it did hit Mars.

Those collusion courses are tricky, what with all the conspiring and such like...

That's one way to find water. (2)

stewsters (1406737) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008295)

I know where we can find water on Mars! We need to calculate that impact point once we get some more observations. We have until 2014 to drive our rovers to that point.

Re:That's one way to find water. (1)

FirephoxRising (2033058) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008857)

How big is this thing and what effects will an impact or an atmospheric skim have on Mars?

Re:That's one way to find water. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#43009405)

Above, I've posted a link with a quote [slashdot.org] . Besides the obvious destructive effect, the Martian atmosphere would get an interesting amount of water vapor added to it.

Terraform Time (1)

ChromaticDragon (1034458) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008297)

Time to get a jump start on terraforming Mars.

We may want to send Bruce Willis out there to steer this one INTO the planet.

Re:Terraform Time (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008445)

Gentlemen, the Hammer might fall. Next year. On another planet. Ala Issac Asimov. [asimovreviews.net]

Re:Terraform Time (1)

cruff (171569) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008811)

Once terraformed Mars Needs Women [imdb.com]

Couldn't this wipe out their dinosaurs? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43008325)

Of course, I realize there are "anti-science" people who don't believe in the existence of Martian dinosaurs.

Re:Couldn't this wipe out their dinosaurs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43009413)

No, but perhaps it could help plan the seeds to start life or help life continue on Mars.

Re:Couldn't this wipe out their dinosaurs? (2)

geminidomino (614729) | about a year and a half ago | (#43010965)

What would it take to jump-start the formation of a magnetosphere, anyway?

Re:Couldn't this wipe out their dinosaurs? (1)

HiThere (15173) | about a year and a half ago | (#43011033)

Sorry, the escape velocity of Mars is too low for that to work. This may create a short-term denser atmosphere, but it won't stick around long enough for life to evolve to multicellular level...unless it's already present.

OTOH, it could shield the surface from UV for a few million years, and might be enough for people to find useful. (You'd still need a pressure suit, but with less pressure differential, it could be a lot more flexible. And it might make extracting Oxygen from the Martian atmosphere a lot more feasible.)

Still, at the pressure that would result after the collision, and the temperature, water would freeze into ice at the equator, and the ice would sublime directly into vapor with no liquid phase. (At least that's my rough estimate.)

What you really need to do is shield the upper layers of the Martian atmosphere from UV. A really tricky proposition. But if you could do that, then the water and other gasses could stick around. (UV splits off the Hydrogen, with escapes almost immediately, and raises the speed to the other molecules, so that some of them also escape.) IIRC, by no means guaranteed, O2 won't escape from Mars, but O will. So you REALLY need to keep the UV out of the atmosphere if you want to keep said atmosphere.

Re:Couldn't this wipe out their dinosaurs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43011379)

Bless you and your heathen (that's a good thing) Martian dinos for making my nearly Arctic winter day a lot sunnier :)

The truth about the TSA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43008327)

Over 400 years ago, famous philosopher Nostradamus predicted Obama's election with chilling accuracy. He completed the prediction by stating that in 2016, the TSA will take control of the people in an all-out frontal assault of our liberties.

According to the TSA documents recently obtained using the Freedom of Information Act, if you "like" American materialism on Facebook, you are automatically added to a watchlist that contains "dissidents and other undesirables."

Outspoken academics who research this topic have had their research silenced by those in power.

If you listen to radio waves coming from the constellation of Orion, you will be shocked to hear what sounds like routine transmissions from the TSA -- but why are they coming FROM outer space?

Perhaps tellingly, several diplomats were barred from the country for agreeing with these claims.

In 2005, sailors on an oil tanker passed through the Bermuda Triangle on a routine voyage between the Gulf Coast and Africa. They never returned, but the last radio transmission, recorded by the NOAA and ham radio enthusiasts, was "S.O.S. - Bright Lights - the TSA and Tencent."

One prominent reporter discovered an unmarked surveillance device under his car after he published an article on this topic.

Wipe the fog of government brainwashing from your eyes and see the truth!

Re:The truth about the TSA (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008743)

If you listen to radio waves coming from the constellation of Orion, you will be shocked to hear...

It was ALMOST an interesting rant, up to this point. Then it hit the CooCoo bit head on.

Re:The truth about the TSA (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43010547)

It took you that long? Not the Nostradamus part, nor the part that supporting materialism gets you labeled as a dissident?

Re:The truth about the TSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43011425)

Your CooCoometer is broken, it should have gone off at level 11 on word 9 including counting the words in the title.

For those whose CooCoometers went off at "9" in this post their CooCoometers are over-sensitive and need recalibration as it was no backwards 911 reference.

Re:The truth about the TSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43009501)

You really should have taken credit for this poetic post! I smell a mini-series!

nothing to see here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43008357)

...It's all part of the plan to re-hydrate the planet for (future) human habitation.

I mean, we all saw the "ship" that split the asteroid over Russia a few days ago (to lessen its impact).
So, this ice cube has been directed by the same "intelligent" life. There's actually a good book from
the aliens - they're still trying to translate it though and only were able to decipher its title "To Serve Man".

You see, it's all about us.

Good Thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43008423)

Well then, it's a good thing we're so far behind schedule. It would really suck for the first suicidal astronauts to get there and be flattened by a comet.

Re:Good Thing... (3, Funny)

Longjmp (632577) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008617)

... It would really suck for the first suicidal astronauts to get there and be flattened by a comet.

While I usually find the usual Star Wars joke pretty tiring, I can't resist myself this time:
Imagine the last radio transmission from mars astronauts to earth would be one saying to the other "That's no moon."

Re:Good Thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43008895)

bad luck brian as an astronaut... first man on mars, planet is hit by comet

The pyromaniac in me... (4, Interesting)

Longjmp (632577) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008427)

The pyromaniac in me really wants to watch the impact ;)

A little caveat and a more serious note:
A (very) quick search didn't show anything about the estimated mass of C/2013 A1, so possibly some debris might hit earth later.

But hey, maybe I want to watch that too!

Re:The pyromaniac in me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43008783)

A (very) quick search didn't show anything about the estimated mass of C/2013 A1, so possibly some debris might hit earth later.

According to this [spaceobs.org] it's over 50km in diameter

Re:The pyromaniac in me... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about a year and a half ago | (#43009461)

Ye gods I hope that is an early estimate. That impact on mars would invalidate all the science done to date. It would be a new planet with no probes or rovers after an impact like that.

Re:The pyromaniac in me... (1)

Spottywot (1910658) | about a year and a half ago | (#43009939)

How would it invalidate science already done? We would have data before and after a comet impact, surely some of the most exciting and informative science ever done. Our current Martian instruments could possibly be destroyed, but that would not invalidate data already recorded, it would simply place it in a different context.

Re:The pyromaniac in me... (3, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | about a year and a half ago | (#43010679)

Well, maybe not invalidate, but we're on a Mars science roll. A few more years of baseline data would be nice, and make the whole before/after picture that much more meaningful.

In particular the MAVEN mission is supposed to study the evolution of the Martian atmosphere, and it's scheduled to be in Mars orbit just 27 days before the possible comet strike. I don't know what a humongous comet strike will do to the research plans. Probably they'd get some interesting information about the aftermath, but it would have been even cooler if the mission had collected a few months of baseline data.

Re:The pyromaniac in me... (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about a year and a half ago | (#43011005)

I was thinking you would have a whole new planet to study. Mars is quite small. Consider a 150km asteroid on Earth.

Re:The pyromaniac in me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43010597)

Considering a large part of the research on Mars is to work out the geological history of the planet, any current events won't invalidate or change that research unless the new crater digs up new layers of rock that we didn't expect to see.

Re:The pyromaniac in me... (1)

DroolTwist (1357725) | about a year and a half ago | (#43010379)

A (very) quick search didn't show anything about the estimated mass of C/2013 A1, so possibly some debris might hit earth later.

According to this [spaceobs.org] it's over 50km in diameter

Any reference to the size of an object is meaningless unless it uses football fields as a unit of measurement.

Re:The pyromaniac in me... (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about a year and a half ago | (#43011001)

But what's its density?

Re:The pyromaniac in me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43008821)

'Twould be incredibly interesting if the dust cloud kicked up by the impact had an effect on the Martian climate... Might it possibly serve to warm the planet, releasing the water frozen in the pole? Would it instead chill the planet (as if it weren't chilly enough already!)?

I think, all things considered, everyone should actually hope very much that it does strike Mars directly. We could learn a great deal indeed, as opposed to a miss which does nobody any good at all.

Re:The pyromaniac in me... (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#43009303)

The pyromaniac in me really wants to watch the impact ;)

You'll be pretty disappointed unless you're also a dust-cloud or crater maniac.

Re:The pyromaniac in me... (2)

Longjmp (632577) | about a year and a half ago | (#43009517)

Not quite.
As someone (thanks AC) pointed out the comet is about 50km in diameter.
Something that size will emit a significant flash of light at impact. Sure, the dust will cover everything after, but not at the moment of impact.
But even then we would be able to collect enormous amounts of data - and I'd still have my fun ;)

Re:The pyromaniac in me... (3, Interesting)

Kittenman (971447) | about a year and a half ago | (#43009985)

Maybe not. I've been watching Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" and one of the episodes (Harmony of the Worlds) covers a cometary hit on the moon in the 12th century, seen by a bunch of English monks in Canterbury.

Must be out there somewhere and here you go... from Wikipedia...
[snip]
Five monks from Canterbury reported to the abbey's chronicler, Gervase, that shortly after sunset on June 18, 1178, (25 June on the proleptic Gregorian calendar) they saw "the upper horn [of the moon] split in two." Furthermore, Gervase writes, "From the midpoint of the division a flaming torch sprang up, spewing out, over a considerable distance, fire, hot coals and sparks. Meanwhile the body of the Moon which was below writhed, as it were in anxiety, and to put it in the words of those who reported it to me and saw it with their own eyes, the Moon throbbed like a wounded snake. Afterwards it resumed its proper state. This phenomenon was repeated a dozen times or more, the flame assuming various twisting shapes at random and then returning to normal. Then, after these transformations, the Moon from horn to horn, that is along its whole length, took on a blackish appearance"
[/snip]

Re:The pyromaniac in me... (1)

Pumpkin Tuna (1033058) | about a year and a half ago | (#43011481)

Yeah. I keep a list of dates that I'm going to visit when I get my time machine. Ever since I first watched Contact, that one has been on it. Along with the opening night of Macbeth.

Oh no! Not the... (-1)

Pionar (620916) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008487)

fucking Catalina Sky Survey!

Comet C/2013 A1 May Hit in Mars 2014 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43008489)

Comet C/2013 A1 May Hit in Mars 2014

That's what I read after a couple of glasses, still both should be as enjoyable I guess.

Fscking Cool! (0)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008493)

To have a rover nearby with a movie cam & mike would be a hell of an opportunity (no pun intended).

Re:Fscking Cool! (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about a year and a half ago | (#43009357)

Not really... Opportunity would not be well served by a huge increase in the dust falling on it, unless there was additional wind storms to keep it clean it would suffer from a reduction in power available. Further, adding a lot of fine dust to the surface would make driving more difficult. Where it would be fun to dream, I doubt Opportunity could survive an impact close enough to directly observe, or close enough to drive to with its remaining life.

Where you can put your Pu.36 module now (0)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008541)

This is our revenge to Marvin the Martian for trying to take our Earth.

(correction: out) (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008569)

s/our/out/

Re:(correction: out) (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43009577)

This is out revenge to Marvin the Martian for trying to take our Earth

That makes even less sense.

Curiosity (0)

FridayBob (619244) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008571)

If it hits, I hope the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers are not damaged. Opportunity has been there since 2004, but Curiosity has been there less than a year and still has most of its life before it. On the other hand, I'm sure scientists around the world would learn plenty from the impact and its aftermath, even if the rest of humanity would not be interested for long ("A defense system? Oh, that's too expensive, and it can't happen here anyway").

Re:Curiosity (1)

steelfood (895457) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008989)

I think the Martians might be trying to get rid of our rovers.

Re:Curiosity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43009055)

We can "hope" it lasts as long as Opportunity, but just because it's newer, doesn't mean it's better.

But does it really matter? It would have to hit really close to them to actually cause some damage. Without an atmosphere as dense as Earth's, wouldn't the shockwaves be weaker?

Re:Curiosity (4, Insightful)

Clomer (644284) | about a year and a half ago | (#43009107)

If it hits, Opportunity is hosed no matter what. The comet will kick up such a dust cloud that Opportunity's solar panels will not be able to keep it powered. The comet is big enough that it will have a direct effect on the entire planet.

Curiosity, on the other hand, would do fine unless it is unlucky enough to be caught within the blast radius. Note that even if they know now exactly where it will hit, if Curiosity is within the dead zone, they wouldn't be able to do anything about it - it can't move anywhere near fast enough to get out of the way when faced with something this big. The best we'd be able to hope for is that it would be able to get some spectacular shots of the final approach and is able to transmit them fast enough before the end.

That said, assuming it does survive the initial blast (pretty good odds, actually, given just how big a planet really is), having a functional probe on the ground would provide invaluable data about the resulting dust cloud and how it affects the climate.

That means war! (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008603)

Unless Mars turns the other cheek, like the moon always does.

Re:That means war! (1)

PhxBlue (562201) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008639)

Alas, the impact of your bad pun is not lost on me.

Late-Breaking News from the Council: REMAIN CALM (4, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008879)

Late-breaking news from the Council: REMAIN CALM.

Panic and hysteria swept our world today upon the discovery of an inbound cometary body with a non-zero impact probability.

K'Breel, Speaker for the Council, addressed a terrified world:

"Podmates and citizens, we believe this object to rate, at most a 1 or a 2 on the Q'nirot scale, and expect further observations to eliminate the possibility of a collision. There is cause for continued observation, but at present there is no cause for alarm."

"We believe this potential impactor to be a routine and natural phenomenon, not a hostile threat from the Blueworlders. For one thing, is approaching from the direction away from the Blue World, from a region that even their invasion fleets have yet to control. Furthermore, it has recently been demonstrated that the Blueworlders, despite the technological terrors they have sent to our world, remain utterly incapable of deflecting inbound asteroids and comets. Unlike our illustirous Planetary Defense Forces, the blueworlders lack the technology to do anything about an inbound impactor."

"A solid planetary defense is the right of every being in every technologically-advanced civilization. As the Blueworlders have so recently discovered the hard way, conquest and empire sometimes need to take a back seat to the basic tools that constitute civilization."

When a junior reporter suggested that EVERYBEING PANIC ANYWAYS, the Speaker concluded his remarks:

"For decades, junior reporters have been making proposals to this council that begin with 'we have to fight the blueworlders over there before we have to fight them over here', and today marks the day where they can finally put their gelsacs where their mouths are."

The reporter's gelsacs were then mounted on the impactor unit of the the kinetic kill vehicle that remains the Planetary Defense Force's third and last line of defense.

Cosmic Data Trove (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008615)

No matter, hit or miss, there will be an enourmous amount of interesting data gathered.

If it hits, we will learn a lot more about impact craters, that's for sure.

The Brennan Monster Breaks Cover (4, Funny)

RatBastard (949) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008667)

I guess he's decided it's time to do something about those damned Martians.

Re:The Brennan Monster Breaks Cover (1)

AJWM (19027) | about a year and a half ago | (#43011737)

And we have a winner! Kudos to you, sir.

(For those who don't get it, go read some Larry Niven or turn in your geek card.)

Water on mars in 3 2 1 ... (1)

RichMan (8097) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008909)

Will we then be able to confirm water on the surface of mars?
Also the building blocks for life? http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news115.html [nasa.gov]

Re:Water on mars in 3 2 1 ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43010747)

I confess, it would be really cool to have this thing impact if it's nearly 100% ice. The once red planet would be covered in dust for quite some time and then the clouds would part and we'd be staring at a wet world. That would be pretty surreal to see unfold. Insanely more so if the gases let off by the impact/water allow the planet to appear 'blue'

Alles okay (2)

CarlosHawes (1256490) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008941)

It's ok. Mars has the illudium Q38 Explosive Space Modulator. They will be fine.

Send a rover. (1)

asm2750 (1124425) | about a year and a half ago | (#43008959)

I would love to see NASA send the backup Curiosity rover to the impact site if it did happen.

Re:Send a rover. (0, Redundant)

Required Snark (1702878) | about a year and a half ago | (#43009079)

That's a damn stupid idea. The impact point would be the worst possible place to put any data recording device, because it would be destroyed before it could gather any meaningful information. You need to be far enough away to survive the impact to get the maximum benefit.

Turn in your nerd card, you just exhibited too little intelligence. Go watch videos of NASCAR crashes instead, it's more up your alley.

Re:Send a rover. (2)

asm2750 (1124425) | about a year and a half ago | (#43009207)

I should have been more specific. I mean after the impact event occurred. Besides the next rover won't be ready for launch for a while.

Also, why don't you think with a little more logic when reading posts instead of going apeshit.

Re:Send a rover. (1)

Longjmp (632577) | about a year and a half ago | (#43009249)

That's a damn stupid idea. The impact point would be the worst possible place to put any data recording device [...]

Yes, of course all the scientists involved would send a backup Curiosity before the impact.

You need to be far enough away to survive the impact to get the maximum benefit.

And I'm sure the NASA people weren't able to figure that out before you chimed in ;)

Turn in your nerd card, you just exhibited too little intelligence. Go watch videos of NASCAR crashes instead, it's more up your alley.

No further comment :D

Re:Send a rover. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43009251)

I'd figure that given the time frames involved it would not be possible to actually get the backup rover there before the impact... SO... I assume the original author understood that and was suggesting the probe arrive AFTER the impact created the hole in mars which seems like a worthy effort which would allow the observation of things we've not yet seen. Back to my NASCAR race...

Re:Send a rover. (1)

Marc_Hawke (130338) | about a year and a half ago | (#43009283)

I think he meant 'after' the impact. As in to 'see what happened.' I think your Snark was a little premature.

What "backup rover" are you talking about? (1)

johnny cashed (590023) | about a year and a half ago | (#43010829)

That isn't a backup rover, it is an engineering rover with identical hardware sans the RTG power source. It is here to be used to figure out problems with the actual rover on mars. Kinda hard to send out a technician to mars to troubleshoot. It isn't a backup in any sense of the word.

So let's calculate the odds... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43009115)

From the summary, the comet will likely be somewhere within 650000 miles of the center of Mars. The radius of Mars is about 2000 miles. So the cross-section of Mars in the target circle is (2000/650000)^2 of the area, or about 1/100000. I think our rovers and orbiters are going to be all right.

(I get it; it's like fantasizing about winning the lottery. But it's not really going to happen.)

Bowling effect (1)

Dunge (922521) | about a year and a half ago | (#43009129)

Comet hit Mars, change its trajectory, Mars hit Earth.

Re:Bowling effect (1)

goodmanj (234846) | about a year and a half ago | (#43009685)

No. Try knocking over pins with a "bowling ball" the size of a red blood cell.

Re:Bowling effect (1)

goodmanj (234846) | about a year and a half ago | (#43009815)

Oh, and the bowling pins are a mile away from each other.

Re:Bowling effect (1)

Kyusaku Natsume (1098) | about a year and a half ago | (#43010625)

GGP has been reading too much Immanuel Velikovsky for his own good.

Satellites... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43009191)

more likely to be lost than rovers.

Not morbid, but it would be great if it hit. (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | about a year and a half ago | (#43009375)

No life (presumably) at threat, but instead could be a potential for later life-support, (could not find out much info on the comet, but they are often full of ice and other good potentially life-supporting stuff).

Of course, the impact would be pretty catastrophic, but very instructive...

Forward Base (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43009487)

This is obviously an alien vessel disguised as a comet coming to set up a forward base/research outpost on Mars in order to study us, and perhaps prep for an invasion.

Re:Forward Base (1)

Scarletdown (886459) | about a year and a half ago | (#43010043)

This is obviously an alien vessel disguised as a comet coming to set up a forward base/research outpost on Mars in order to study us, and perhaps prep for an invasion.

Very well could be that someone has commandeered the Butt on Mercury in order to attack the fourth planet using the first planet.

Don't bet on it (3, Insightful)

goodmanj (234846) | about a year and a half ago | (#43009655)

If the distance uncertainty is 650,000 miles, the odds of this comet hitting Mars are *at best* 1 in 300, possibly up to 1 in 100,000 (depending on the shape of the comet's uncertainty ellipse, which is not mentioned in TFA.)

Re:Don't bet on it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43011257)

Actually, at best the odds are 1 in 1. The thing is, we don't know enough yet to say.

Marvin! You Are on Deck! (1)

Scarletdown (886459) | about a year and a half ago | (#43010027)

This sounds like a job for Marvin. Finally, a use for all those Illudium 236 Explosive Space Modulators!

What did they do? (1)

AndyKron (937105) | about a year and a half ago | (#43010193)

What did the Martians do to get God mad?

Re:What did they do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43011475)

They got themselves all extinct. If you're extinct, you can't worship, and gods get angry if that happens.

Affect on Future Mars Exploration? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43010695)

If a big comet did hit Mars, how would that affect future exploration on Mars?
Would it delay the first human trip to Mars for like 50 years?
No more robots sent to Mars either.

What about Mars moons? (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | about a year and a half ago | (#43010739)

What about Mars moons? Too soon to tell if they will get hit first? What kinda telescope should i get? i should at least be able to see the blast from Earth

Maybe the rover will catch it... (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year and a half ago | (#43010835)

... if the "90 day" rover can last this long, maybe it'll be able to send back some good video :)

Oh, please (1)

Jiro (131519) | about a year and a half ago | (#43011125)

I don't know the exact odds of hitting Mars, but let's try a very rough back of the envelope estimate. It's going to pass about 650000 miles from Mars, more or less. Assume that it is equally likely to hit every spot within a cross sectional area that reaches out to 650000 miles. This is wrong, of course, but I'm just doing a back of the envelope calculation to get within an order of magnitude or so, not calculating accurately.

Mars has a radius of somewhat over 2000 miles. The ratio of the cross sectional area of Mars to that of the 650000 mile radius is (pi * 2000 ^ 2) / (pi * 650000 ^ 2) or about a 1 in 100000 chance of actually hitting the planet.

In a real calculation you'd have to take into account things like non-uniform probability distributions within the radius, gravity, etc. But if you want this thing to hit, it's almost certain you're going to be disappointed.

Re:Oh, please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43011381)

Well the other side of the estimate puts it at 0.0007 AU or 63000 miles from Mars. Things get much more interesting in that measurement :)

Test of Humanity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43011327)

Why not take this opportunity to try to deflect the comet? We should be treating this like a test of our emergency comet deflection system.

Of course this only applies if it's really on target to hit Mars.

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