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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

On 8:42 AM by Zufar M Ihsan in ,    No comments

A probe in orbit around Mars spotted Comet ISON a possible "comet of the century" as it flew past the Red Planet on its way to give the sun a close shave come November.

On Sept. 29, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter pointed its High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera at Comet ISON to make observations and measure its brightness.

Although the ISON may look like a fuzzy blob in the new photos produced by HiRISE, scientists can still glean important information from the images sent to Earth from Mars. 

At the moment, ISON is making its closest approach to the Red Planet. The comet is now flying about 7 million miles (1.1 million kilometers) off the surface of Mars and HiRISE scientists are planning on observing ISON three more times as it makes its close pass.

Comet ISON is a bit dimmer than many observers hoped it would be at this point in its shot toward the sun, but hope is not lost for the promising comet. As ISON comes closer to the sun, more of its ice is expected to evaporate, making the comet even brighter.

The comet will make its closest approach of the sun on Nov. 28, flying just 730,000 miles (1.2 million km) off the star's surface.

Many skywatchers hope that  Comet ISON will brighten significantly, giving observers on Earth a brilliant show. Skywatchers have mixed reviews of the comet's current activity, however. Some amateur astronomers think that Comet ISON will be absolutely stunning in December while others think it's fizzling out.

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