Comet Siding Spring is set to buzz past Mars on October 19, 2014. In preparation, NASA's fleet of orbiters and rovers at Mars are readying to make the most of this truly historic cosmic fly-by!
Opposite is a broad outline of some of the planned observations in the coming weeks. Detailed information about the observations and potential science return can be found in the replays of our two workshops on August 11, 2014, and September 19, 2014. We've also posted blogs detailing the threat (or lack thereof) of dust impacts on the spacecraft, the fantastic timing of MAVEN's arrival at Mars, and much more. A detailed timeline of events can be found on the NASA JPL Mars Comet website.
The next few weeks are where things get really exciting, so keep checking back here for the latest info on this once-in-a-lifetime event!
The Siding Spring Observing Campaign is a NASA-backed program tasked with encouraging and facilitating an international Earth and space-based observing campaign for Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) prior to, during, and after, its extremely close brush with Mars on 19 October 2014.
Following the overwhelming success of the Comet ISON Observing Campaign, the "CIOC" has repurposed itself under the label of Coordinated Investigations Of Comets, with its current emphasis targeting the thrilling prospect of Comet Siding-Spring's passing within 1/3 the Earth-Moon distance of the planet Mars in late 2014.
This CIOC website will provide up-to-date information about Comet Siding Spring, information on participation in the Campaign and how you can help, links to relevant observatories and programs, and blog postings from CIOC Team members. Over the coming months, as C/2013 A1 makes its close approach to Mars, and an increasing volume of observations are made, you can expect to see a corresponding increase in the number of articles, blog posts and images appearing on the site. If you are a professional astronomer, and would like to make your observation plans known, please fill out a brief observation form.