PIA17833: NEOWISE Spies Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring
Mission: NEOWISE
Instrument: NEOWISE Telescope
Product Size: 660 x 308 pixels (width x height)
Produced By: IPAC-Caltech
Full-Res TIFF: PIA17833.tif (610.3 kB)
Full-Res JPEG: PIA17833.jpg (65.2 kB)

Click on the image above to download a moderately sized image in JPEG format (possibly reduced in size from original)

Original Caption Released with Image:

Click here for larger version of PIA17833
Figure 1
Click on the image for larger version

NASA's NEOWISE mission captured images of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring, which is slated to make a close pass by Mars on Oct. 19, 2014. The infrared pictures reveal a comet that is active and very dusty even though it was about 355 million miles (571 million kilometers) away from the sun on Jan. 16, 2014, when this picture was taken.

The infrared measurements will allow astronomers to determine the sizes and quantity of dust particles being flung off the comet. The measurements will also give engineers some indications of what orbiting spacecraft at Mars might expect when the comet gets close. Preliminary analysis of the data indicate approximately 220 pounds (100 kilograms) of dust are being ejected from the comet's surface each second, assuming the grains are dark and nearly the density of water-ice. The comet's activity is expected to increase as it gets closer to Mars.

JPL manages NEOWISE for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington. The Space Dynamics Laboratory in Logan, Utah, built the science instrument. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colo., built the spacecraft. Science operations and data processing take place at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

More information is online at http://www.nasa.gov/wise and http://wise.astro.ucla.edu and http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/wise.

Image Credit:
NASA/JPL-Caltech

Image Addition Date:
2014-01-28