astroengine writes "Scientists managing the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) have released their first observations of the incoming Comet ISON. The MRO was commanded to turn away its perpetual Mars-ward gaze and point into deep space to capture its own snapshot of the famous comet. ISON is currently making its closest approach to the red planet, passing just 7 million miles from its surface. The first raw images were snapped on Sept. 29 when the object was 8 million miles from the planet and more images (taken on Oct. 1 and Oct. 2) are currently being processed. The four initial observations reveal a fuzzy cometary object moving relative to background stars. Detail is lacking as the comet is still too distant, but these observations are useful to gauge how the brightness of the object compares to predicted values. So far, ISON is at the “low end” of predicted brightness values."
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