A comet from the dawn of our time is coming within 140,000 km of Mars and providing astronomers with a once-in-a-million-years experience.
Comet Siding Spring comes from the Oort Cloud, material left over from the formation of the solar system, which can tell scientists about the matter – including water and carbon compounds – that existed some 4.6 billion years ago.
“The close fly-by of Mars by Comet Siding Spring is unique, unexpected, and lucky for us,” space scientist David Humm, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory said.
NASA is taking steps to protect its Mars orbiters while preserving opportunities to gather valuable scientific data and images.
The comet will pass by Mars on 19 October.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.