The comet Siding Spring passed nearly 87000 miles from Mars on October 19, which was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope and this helped in giving a composite image of this comet while it made a buzz past Mars as never seen so far.
This image combines the exposures taken amidst October 18 and late the next evening and also a separate image of Mars on the evening of October 18.
The picture developed by the composite of many images displays a fuzzy white comet hovering over a glowing rust-colored planet (Mars). This provides an insight in the detail of mars, the comet’s dust cloud and its tail. The comet’s solid icy nucleus is too tiny to be noticed in the image.
The reason behind the taking of a composite picture instead of a single shot through the telescope are: First of all, the Red Planet is 10000 times more bright than the comet hence making it near impossible to see the details of the Red Planet and Siding Spring in a single exposure.
Second of all, the two objects on Sunday were racing past one another during their near-rendezvous. Taking this into consideration, at least one of these objects would have been blurred for sure if the Hubble had attempted to take an image of them at the same time.
Providing details about the generated image, the NASA officials said that the image precisely illustrates the gap between Siding Spring and Mars during the time of the closest approach by the comet.
Jim Green, Director of NASA’s planetary science division in an interview with The Times said, “We know how big Mars is — it’s an enormous planet — smaller than the Earth, but bigger than the moon. And even though the nucleus of the comet is just 500 meters across [1/3 of a mile], the coma and the tail are enormous”.
He further said that this unique encounter of the planet and comet will give the scientists loads of new data.