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NASA Snaps Shot of Mars-Bound Comet

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the that's-a-close-one dept.

NASA 38

coondoggie (973519) writes "NASA today released images of a comet that will make a pass within 84,000 miles of Mars — less than half the distance between Earth and the moon. NASA said the Hubble Space Telescope captured the image of comet C/2013 A1, also called Siding Spring, at a distance of 353 million miles from Earth. Hubble can't see Siding Spring's icy nucleus because of its minuscule size. The nucleus is surrounded by a glowing dust cloud that measures roughly 12,000 miles across, NASA said."

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In The Grande Scheme of Things... (5, Insightful)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 4 months ago | (#46598345)

We have the ability as a sentient race to capture and view an image 353 million miles from our friggin' planet.... and as a people, we're still fascinated with tribalism and the Kardashians.

Though we be a race capable of marvelous achievement, we have not yet come to terms with our inner retard.

Re:In The Grande Scheme of Things... (4, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#46598585)

It takes a lot of idiots blowing their money and Starbucks and Banana Republic to generate the kind of economy you need pull of things like the Hubble Telescope.

Re:In The Grande Scheme of Things... (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 4 months ago | (#46598677)

Well Done sir, well done.

Re:In The Grande Scheme of Things... (0)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about 4 months ago | (#46600323)

Businesses like Starbucks and Banana Republic are far more beneficial to the society than the Hubble Telescope.

Re:In The Grande Scheme of Things... (1)

someone1234 (830754) | about 4 months ago | (#46600583)

You, sir, are an idiot. Astronomy will eventually save our collective asses (7+ billion people) from an incoming meteor, while we can very well live without eating banana or drinking coffee.

Re:In The Grande Scheme of Things... (1)

AC-x (735297) | about 4 months ago | (#46601105)

Yet we managed to go to the moon on an economy not based on living the brand lifestyles.

Re:In The Grande Scheme of Things... (2)

symbolset (646467) | about 4 months ago | (#46602637)

So drink Tang! The drink the astronauts drank on their way to the moon.

Re:In The Grande Scheme of Things... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46598681)

Did you slit your wrists as you typed this? It's a fucking rock among countless trillions all over the universe. It's a dead rock that got close to another dead rock. Excuse me if I care a bit more about what actual human beings alive right here and right now are doing, no matter how trivial. It's still far more amazing than inanimate matter going along Newtonian paths.

I'll bet you're a Space Nutter who cares deeply about the species, yet you sound like a miserable misanthropic bastard...

Re:In The Grande Scheme of Things... (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 4 months ago | (#46598965)

Did you slit your wrists as you typed this?

Of course, but perpendicular to my forearm because it's just a cry for help.

It's a fucking rock among countless trillions all over the universe. It's a dead rock that got close to another dead rock.

Statistically unlikely fortuitous turn of events; you do know what fortuitous means, don't you?

Excuse me if I care a bit more about what actual human beings alive right here and right now are doing, no matter how trivial. It's still far more amazing than inanimate matter going along Newtonian paths. I'll bet you're a Space Nutter who cares deeply about the species, yet you sound like a miserable misanthropic bastard...

Ironically, yes. Though I am occasionally able to loathe an individual, I am rooting European-Football fanatically for the team.

Re:In The Grande Scheme of Things... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46599145)

"Statistically unlikely fortuitous turn of events; you do know what fortuitous means, don't you?"

So.... Um... You think in the entire universe, it's "unlikely" that a a rock got close to another rock? Or just these two rocks? Do you know what dumbfuck means? Oh what fun, I can use italics too!

Hey, dipshit, there are rocks right here on Earth! Why aren't you excited about those? How about those at the bottom of the Mariana Trench?

So, rooting for the team means whipping it out on the bus every time an automated camera takes a picture of a rock?

How about growing up and looking at the countless actual problems we are facing right now?

Oh, that would imply action, and getting off the computer and dealing with the dirty unwashed masses...

Re:In The Grande Scheme of Things... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46599569)

So.... Um... You think in the entire universe, it's "unlikely" that a a rock got close to another rock? Or just these two rocks?

Well, if you can tell me what the probability of this rock being in this position at this particular time when things are just the right setup for observation. You can't? You certainly can't capitalize correctly.

Do you know what dumbfuck means? Oh what fun, I can use italics too!

But not your brain, apparently. Also, not blockquote tags, either.

Hey, dipshit, there are rocks right here on Earth! Why aren't you excited about those? How about those at the bottom of the Mariana Trench?

Maybe he is! I can tell you which rocks he's not excited about, though: the ones between your ears. Give us a shake, show us how the ol' rock tumbler works!

Oh, and it's Marianas Trench, not Mariana Trench.

So, rooting for the team means whipping it out on the bus every time an automated camera takes a picture of a rock?

It certainly sounds like you've whipped out right now, you naughty little angry internet tough guy, you.

How about growing up and looking at the countless actual problems we are facing right now?

Finally to the root of your point. Are you suggesting that, right now, we should stop doing everything or anything that doesn't immediately address the problems we face right now?

Angry internet tough guy is ranting - on the internet - about how nobody is addressing real world problems. Angry internet tough guy should probably stop the one-handed typing, and get outside. Pick a problem and resolve it in its entirety.

I suggest reconciling the Crips and the Bloods, or possibly ending homelessness within the US. Hell, make that the Americas!

Or perhaps, you should realise that you've just constructed a logical fallacy. Think of it this way:

We must stop wasting our time and effort on $thing_that_does_not_interest_me, and resolve $issue_that_I_find_more_pressing.

Many, many people will disagree on which $issue_that_I_find_more_pressing needs a resolution. Here is a list of a few: hunger, homelessness, gang violence, child abuse, human trafficking, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, smoking, piracy (the seafaring kind), upskirt photography, war, hate crimes motivated by sexuality/gender/race/religious belief, sociopaths running the countries and big business, pollution, not believing in Jesus, not believing in Allah, not believing in Jahweh, not believing in the correct version of Jesus, illiteracy, imperialism, nationalism, white supremacy, black supremacy, yellow supremacy, rap music, rock and roll music, violent movies, violent video games, improper dancing (in the middle of the street, no less), murder, black face, physical comedy, nudity on television and film, nudity in magazines, lust, immorality, short skirts, low-cut tops, mixed education, mixed gymnasiums, homosexuality in the armed forces, the armed forces, internet file sharing, people being paid for doing jobs they ought to be doing for free, right hand drive vs left hand drive, sex for fun and not procreation, gun control, too much gun control, people being allowed to vote republican, people being allowed to vote democrat, masturbation, sex toys, and lawless nations.

I'm sure that, now that I've spelled it out for you, you can see that whatever concerns you most may not concern others nearly as much. If you can work out how to make everyone in the world care about a particular issue that you feel is the worst ever, and you're welcome to try, you should go for it. Don't expect everyone to snap to attention for your idea. You're just one guy who is poor and probably shouldn't be trumpeting about others not solving the world's problems in such a loud manner.

Oh, that would imply action, and getting off the computer and dealing with the dirty unwashed masses...

But we've already established that the only unwashed masses you're dealing with is masturbating your unwashed cock. Now cut it out. You'll go blind.

Re:In The Grande Scheme of Things... (1, Funny)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 4 months ago | (#46598753)

I know eh? What the fucks with those retarded scientists trying to figure stuff out light years away when we can't even figure out our shit at home.

Re:In The Grande Scheme of Things... (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 4 months ago | (#46598883)

I'm not sure I like your syntax, your grammar, your spelling, or your android... but the jury's still out on your tone.

Pretty please leave your legal training and five dollar Latin phrases (figure stuff out, shit at home, et al) at home when next you speak with me.

Re:In The Grande Scheme of Things... (2)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 4 months ago | (#46599771)

Dude, I have no idea what you're talking about.

I'm renowned for my incomprehensibly bad jokes.

Re:In The Grande Scheme of Things... (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 4 months ago | (#46601313)

Dude, I have no idea what you're talking about.

I'm renowned for my incomprehensibly bad jokes.

As am I.

Re:In The Grande Scheme of Things... (1)

Jason Goatcher (3498937) | about 4 months ago | (#46598845)

It takes a huge support structure to accomplish things like that. Besides, if everybody was intelligent, it would just raise the bar when it came to stupid people.

Re:In The Grande Scheme of Things... (5, Funny)

by (1706743) (1706744) | about 4 months ago | (#46599099)

...we're still fascinated with tribalism and the Kardashians.

I think our fascination with them is healthy. They help to illustrate our desire to explore, while at the same time serving as a gentle caution against the more dark, violent aspects of our own humanity.

And it's spelled, "Cardassians."

Re:In The Grande Scheme of Things... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46599237)

It's also spelled "grand"... What kind of special dumbshit is the OP anyways?

Re:In The Grande Scheme of Things... (3, Funny)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 4 months ago | (#46600639)

And it's spelled, "Cardassians."

No, you're confused. Cardassians are a selfish, arrogant, lizard-like species, whereas the Kardashians-

Hold on...

The earth is still flat my friend (1)

xednieht (1117791) | about 4 months ago | (#46601583)

Faith and creationism are great aren't they?

Re:The earth is still flat my friend (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 4 months ago | (#46601801)

Faith and creationism are great aren't they?

We seem to be outgrowing them, although at the present rate, the benefits of an enlightened World will go to our grandchildren's grandchildren.

Re:In The Grande Scheme of Things... (1)

cyn1c77 (928549) | about 4 months ago | (#46605609)

We have the ability as a sentient race to capture and view an image 353 million miles from our friggin' planet.... and as a people, we're still fascinated with tribalism and the Kardashians.

Though we be a race capable of marvelous achievement, we have not yet come to terms with our inner retard.

The "inner retard" is a result of our educational system and societal values. We train people poorly and then create a lot of menial jobs that further blunt their scientific acumen.

Thus, most exciting space objects are sufficiently complex that most people without geophysics or fluids PhD's cannot grasp the significant of them.

Also, for most cases, a rock in space is not much more exciting than a rock on earth. Even with the present comet images massaged and stretched to their limit, we can't even see the core. Instead, we are shown two jets and told that scientists will now be able to measure the rotation axis and rate of the nucleus.

Why is this important? How will it help our understanding of anything other than this particular comet? The only short explanation given:

"This is critical information that we need to determine whether, and to what degree, dust grains in the coma of the comet will impact Mars and spacecraft in the vicinity of Mars"

is both unclear to the layman and also quite boring!

Also, at night you can go outside, look up and see lots of objects further than 353 million miles away. So it really isn't that unique a capability. (I know you left some qualifying details out of your comment, but since you are insulting the general population, I thought that I would point that out!)

Miniscule? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46598357)

Hubble can't see Siding Spring's icy nucleus because of its minuscule size

I don't think just because something can't be seen with one of the most powerful telescopes ever made it qualifies as miniscule.

Re:Miniscule? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46601581)

While I don't disagree. I think that it's about relative scales. Compared to other objects we typically observe in the universe, the nucleus is VERY small. Heck compared to most things we observe, the earth is VERY small :-P.

Siding Spring -- meaning (3, Informative)

brindafella (702231) | about 4 months ago | (#46598691)

That name, Siding Spring, comes from the name of Siding Spring Observatory [anu.edu.au] , the most significant optical observatory in Australia, operated by the Australian National University. The mountain is part of the Warrumbungle Range, in the state of New South Wales, near the town Coonabarabran [wikipedia.org] . It is the site of the Anglo-Australian Telescope [wikipedia.org] , among others. Also see Google maps [google.com.au] at 31.273038S 149.066804E.

Re:Siding Spring -- meaning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46599767)

Thanks for posting that. I was going to ask if it was named by the same person who came up with Operation Enduring Freedom.

snaps shot? "let's go to the tape!" (0)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 4 months ago | (#46598741)

old folks using old slang

Quick, email Elon Musk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46598769)

Maybe he can divert the comet with his powerful rockets so he can have feedstock for his gigantic Mars 3D printer he's sending there.

It looks like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46598789)

It looks like a tit to me.

Really, look at the pic. That's a female breast.

"Processed" Image (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46598861)

Who applied the sharpen filter in Photoshop and called it a day?

Or maybe it's electric. (1)

danda (11343) | about 4 months ago | (#46599217)

Probably a plasma sheath, not a dust cloud.

Watch this video. The Electric Comet.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34wtt2EUToo

Re:Or maybe it's electric. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46600531)

It seems more and more evidence appears consistent with the electric/plasma universe idea. I think it should not be ignored as it is currently.

Re:Or maybe it's electric. (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 4 months ago | (#46600745)

I think it should not be ignored as it is currently.

I think it should. Comment annihilation!

You're being stupid. Stop it. (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about 4 months ago | (#46600825)

We've flown probes through comet dust tails. We've captured particles of the dust and ice in comet tails in aerogel and returned them to Earth. We know what they are made of.

What about our spacecraft at Mars? (3, Interesting)

wisebabo (638845) | about 4 months ago | (#46599709)

If we are getting decent images from 353 million miles away how about when we take pictures from 84,000 miles? I mean we (the U.S.) will have 3 orbiters around Mars including MAVEN as well as two working landers. The Europeans have one or two and I think India has one on the way.

Of course the Hubble is a really good telescope but the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has a camera that can see meter wide objects from orbit (it can see the landers, supposedly it has the best telescope ever sent to another world) so that's not too bad (and it will be a thousand times closer!). Perhaps we can send one of the older orbiters on a "suicide" mission to get really close! (fuel providing).

On the other hand, I wonder what plans are being made to protect these assets from the "blizzard" of particles surrounding the comet? If the visible coma is 12,000 miles across even now, how large will the accompanying and expanding cloud of particles from the comet be? If it's on its outward trajectory from the sun, it might be pretty big since it will have had a lot more material being blown off of it. Will the space agencies try to arrange it so that their spacecraft are on the other side of the planet when it blows through? (If they had a lot of delta-V, I'd suggest they hide out behind one of the moons but I'm afraid that's science fiction for now). Will it go through the Mars system quickly enough to make this feasible?

I'm sure this is all being worked out by people who are much smarter (and better trained) than I so I think we can look forward to a real scientific windfall (cometfall?) in October! :) It's really going to be something!

Re:What about our spacecraft at Mars? (2)

Convector (897502) | about 4 months ago | (#46601433)

We certainly will be observing this comet with our Mars spacecraft. http://www.nasa.gov/jpl/mars/c... [nasa.gov]

In fact, there was a practice run with ISON last year. I think the goal is to point every telescope in the solar system at this thing during the pass.

Re:What about our spacecraft at Mars? (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 4 months ago | (#46602687)

Mars orbiter will be taking images of this comet from inside its tail. A comet colonoscopy, if you will.

Rooting for it to hit? (1)

Evan Teran (2911843) | about 4 months ago | (#46601607)

Am I the only one who would be excited if it hit Mars? I know that it almost certainly won't, but if it did, it could possibly give us great data regarding the possible origin of water on Earth.

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