Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The moons of Mars were saved from the comet – BBC

Past Mars at a record low swept away comet almost shot down satellites constellation. Scientists hope to learn what constitutes a guest and amateur astronomers already spread brighter pictures.

Comet Siding Spring, closer to Mars, which waited scientists, amateur astronomers, orbital probes and rovers, flashed at a record minimum distance from the planet, and now flies towards the sun. The comet, named after the observatory, where it was discovered a year ago, has attracted attention for several reasons.

First, the scientists found that it flew out of the so-called Oort cloud – the largest repository of long-period comets, which is located at a distance of about 50 thousand. astronomical units (1 AU is the distance from Earth to the Sun ). This area is populated by a huge number of icy bodies and comets, only occasionally fly into the center of the solar system. Scientists believe that the comet C / 2013 A1 first flew into the inner regions of the solar system and had never been scorched by the Sun.

Therefore, most likely, a comet now we see a as it was still 4.6 billion years ago, and watching her promises astronomers learn more about original material from which the solar system originated.

«This comet has never approached the Sun. This is her first pass in the area, which we call the boundary of water and ice, where it really became evaporate “- said astrophysicist Carey Lisse of the Johns Hopkins University in Maryland.

Last night the comet moved closer to Mars at a record small distance – a total of 140 thousand. km, which is almost 3 times closer distance from the Earth to the Moon. This made the passage of the comet’s closest to any of the planets since the fall of Jupiter on the comet Shoemaker-Levy. In addition, scientists believe,

that the first watch at all for at least a million years, the penetration of the Oort cloud comets into the inner solar system.

And finally, scientists are very lucky that it was on Mars now has a whole fleet of spacecraft that have begun to observe the guest from afar who could. Astronomers are hoping to observe unusual effects from the interaction of cometary material, the solar wind and the rarefied atmosphere of the plans. However, this apparatus was necessary to protect – because the comet was flying toward the orbital motion of Mars, and therefore had a relative speed of more than 50 thousand. Kilometers per second.

At such speeds, a small piece of ice or dust flying in the composition of the comet’s tail could easily break through the solar panel or any fuel.

«Mars would be right on the edge of the cloud of debris so that it can run with any of them,” – said the expert on the Mars Exploration of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Rich Zurek. Currently in orbit around Mars orbit five probes – recently reached the planet Indian machine, apparatus NASA – MRO, Mars Odyssey and Maven, as well as the European Mars Express.

It is known that three American experts probe previously taken to the the opposite side of the planet, so she hid them from possible debris of the comet. Orbital maneuver previously made and European ship.

Watched comet and two rovers – Oportunity and Curiosity, scientists suggest,

that these phones with luck circumstances could see for the first time on Mars meteor rain.

«Oportunity and Curiosity are on opposite sides of Mars. Oportunity remove comet dawn dusk, a few hours before the passage of the comet. After the sun will rise on the other side of the planet, Curiosity will remove, like a comet moves away from Mars “- said Mark Lemmon, Managing cameras rovers.

What you saw Martian machines in fact, it is not clear – to send photos of the Earth has to go three or four days, and the processing of some of the data may take years. The movement of the comet across the sky followed by amateur astronomers around the world, a variety of ground-based observatories and space telescope Hubble. One of the best images of the comet when it was at an angular distance of one degree from Mars, has already made and published the famous master astrophotography Damian Peach.


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