Johns Hopkins APL and Mars Comet

Recently, a comet that has traveled many billions of miles will come within about 87,000 miles of Mars—about one-third of the distance of the Moon from Earth.

"The close flyby of Mars by Comet Siding Spring is unique, unexpected, and lucky for us," said David Humm, space scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. "It's likely this is its first time this close to the sun."

Humm serves as instrument scientist for the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM), built by APL, and one of the instruments on board NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) that will observe Siding Spring.

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