A comet dubbed Siding Spring will fly extremely close to Mars, which may not damage the research rovers on the planet or the research satellites that are orbiting the planet but it is still concerning scientists.

The comet was discovered in January 2013 by Australian astronomer Robert H. McNaught at the Siding Spring Observatory, in Australia. Astronomers say that Siding Spring comet is believed to pass within 82,000 miles to Mars on Oct. 19, 2014 at a relative speed of 35 miles per second (56 km per second). The distance may seem far but in astronomical terms it is considered very close.

Comets usually eject tiny dust particles, several gases and water vapor. Even though they are small particles, they can still cause damage when traveling at a very high speed. The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) says that there are two rovers on the surface of Mars and five satellites orbiting the Red planet. The comet may potentially damage three of its precious satellites, which are valued at $1.5 billion. Given the distance from Earth, if these satellites are damaged it will be impossible to fix them.

"They are essentially little cannonballs and bullets flying around, and they could do real damage," says Richard Zurek, chief scientist for the Mars Program Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Scientists say that there are very little chances that the comet will collide with Mars. However, the close flyby will affect the upper layer of Mars' atmosphere. Scientists have also suggested that there is a possibility that the comet may explode when it nears Mars.

The astronomers give the example of the ISON comet, which shattered when it approached near to the Sun in 2013. Considering this possibility, NASA is taking a precautionary step and will ensure that the five hovering satellites will be on the other side of the planet when the Siding Spring passes Mars.

Scientists are concerned about the celestial event but at the same time they are also excited. James Green, director of NASA's planetary science division and of its Mars program says that it is also an opportunity to for scientists to observe the impact of the close encounter on Mars as well as Siding Spring. 

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