Click the image to play full resolution animation
This animation and still image of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring were taken by the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover as the comet passed near the red planet on Oct. 19, 2014.
The animation consists of 10 exposures of 25 seconds each, taken between 2:33 p.m. PDT (5:33 EDT) and 3:54 p.m. PDT (6:34 EDT) on Oct. 19. The exposures are projected onto a celestial frame. The still is an image from the animation. Most of the specks are electronic noise. The short, straight streaks are stars.
In the still image, comet Siding Spring is visible as a faint smear just above and to the right of the brightest streak. In the animation, the comet moves across the image from right to left above the brightest streak.
Several other NASA instruments on Mars and in space also imaged comet Siding Spring's Mars flyby. All images are available at http://mars.nasa.gov/comets/sidingspring.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed and built the project's Curiosity rover. More information about Curiosity is online at http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/.