Thursday, January 30, 2014

MAJOR GLOBAL ALERT: Massive Snowstorm In The United States Yields "FAKE SNOW" - Is This Is A False Flag Weather Manipulation Or A Massive Social Experiment?! [STUNNING VIDEOS]

January 30, 2014 - UNITED STATES - Stop the press! A recent snowstorm that blanked Atlanta and parts of Virginia sending thousands of residents into turmoil, causing nearly the entire city to come to a standstill, may have been a false flag operation or beta test carried out by diabolic factions of the U.S. government.





While the motive is not yet fully known, one thing is for sure, havoc has ensued and something is just not sitting right with people in the region.


KTLA5 reported:
Rebekah Cole left work Tuesday afternoon and was still sitting in traffic 10 hours later — at 1 a.m. Wednesday. She said she hoped her car wouldn’t run out of fuel as she prepared to spend the night in it.

She described what she had seen as a “zombie movie” — droves of people got out of their cars and were having conversations.


In the dead of night, they talked and walked between cars covered in white powder.

But what if that powder was made of a synthetic material?

The Proof


How many times have you seen snow in your life?

I am guessing that everyone reading this likely has seen and handled snow at one time or another. I mean, anyone that has handled snow knows that it melts as it is simply made of water.

Shockingly, after “massive chemtrail” sightings over the state of Georgia and parts of West Virginia over the last few days, residents are becoming wiser–nonetheless the government and mainstream media remains silent.

Response by Atlanta city officials including the mayor have been limited, blaming the storm on a “faulty weather forecast”.

Concerned citizens and experts alike have been left to wonder how such a big city can be caught off guard by a snowstorm.

It is also important to point out that mainstream media rhetoric has become extremely unusual regarding the weather in Atlanta over the past 24 hours.

A Call To Action


While the true intent of this operation, likely militarized, is currently unknown, it begs for a few good questions. I mean, why would the military want to demobilize the city of Atlanta for days? If they did, what would be the purpose? Interestingly, a few things actually come to mind.

So if you are in the area please contact us with your reports as Intellihub News is an open source portal for suppressed information.

A few areas worth investigating are:
  1. The Center for Disease Control (CDC), based in Atlanta
  2. Preparations for martial law based on a known future event to take place soon
  3. Prepositioning of military forces
Right now we are looking for boots on the ground reports out of Atlanta, to help aid our investigation into this matter.


WATCH: Here are several video evidence:












Many other videos proving something is wrong have been posted as we

It should be noted that the mayor of Atlanta stated in a press conference that the city was caught off guard. However, he keeps speaking rather cryptically, using odd terminology, alluding to the fact that military personnel will be present and future preparations may be necessary.

A State of Emergency has been declared. - Intellihub.



GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Increased Activity At Guatemala's Pacaya Volcano Prompts Evacuations!

January 30, 2014 - GUATEMALA - A volcanic eruption last week in the Central American nation of Guatemala is forcing nearby evacuations and has closed the area off to tourism according to reports from AP sources in the area. The volcano is located just south of Guatemala City.


The Pacaya volcano in Guatemala is oozing more lava than normal after volcanic activity increased last week,
forcing some evacuations and closing the area off to tourism. (Photo : Carlos Urrutia / Flickr)

The Pacaya volcano has begun a constant lava flow down one side of the mountain that has caused the removal of some local residents. There have also been intermittent explosions and clouds of ash being tossed into the air.

The activity of the volcano is described as "mildly explosive and effusive (Strombolian activity, lava fountaining, lava flows from the summit crater)," according to Volcano Discovery. "Near continuously active the least during the past centuries."

An update to the site on Jan. 12 noted the proximity of lava flows moving closer to inhabited areas.

"These fissures feed two large (and possibly one smaller third) lava flows that have reached lengths of 3-5 km length and are several hundred meters wide at their fronts (up to 800 m on the western side)," Volcano Discovery reported. "The lava flows have burned extensive areas of farmland and woods and are close to some villages. In the meantime, moderate to violent strombolian activity continues at the summit."


The volcano has long provided a tourist attraction for foreigners in the area. With the recent activity,
the mountain has been closed to tourists.

The heaviest activity is occurring in the San Vicente Pacaya in the Department of Escuintla, where photographs show residents monitoring massive burning flows as well as firefighters in the region trying to contain fires that have been spawned as a result of the volcano's activity.

There have also been some recent activity on volcanos in Alaska noted on the Aleutian Islands. However, since Jan. 2 no new activity has been observed and the USGS has reduced the alert level to Orange in that area. The Aleutian Islands are a very sparsely populated chain of islands in the northern state. - Latino Post.



MASS BIRD DIE-OFF: "Never Seen Anything Like It" - Hundreds Of Dead Birds Found In Burleson, Texas?!

January 30, 2014 - TEXAS, UNITED STATES - A strange scene prompted a lot of calls from concerned motorists Thursday morning: Dead starlings and grackles scattered on and around the Interstate-35W south service road at Alsbury Boulevard.


A strange scene prompted a lot of calls from concerned motorists Thursday morning: Dead starlings and grackles
scattered on and around the Interstate-35W south service road at Alsbury Boulevard.   Credit: WFAA

"The ones we found in the grass did not have any signs of trauma we could see," said Burleson animal control supervisor Kim Peckler.

Crews collected just over 200 dead birds, and one that died a short time later. Peckler said she’s never seen anything like it in her 25 years of working with animal control.

Veterinarian Bob Denton did an initial search for clues.

"The first thing I noticed on this bird is his liver is enlarged," he said, examining a male grackle.

He said one bird had signs of sinus infection.


A strange scene prompted a lot of calls from concerned motorists Thursday morning: Dead starlings and grackles
scattered on and around the Interstate-35W south service road at Alsbury Boulevard.   Credit: WFAA

"The big thing you would worry about is toxins," he said. "Or maybe a virus."

Dr. Denton called the Texas Veterinarian Diagnostic Lab at A&M.

An avian expert told him the bird die-off probably is nothing to worry about.

"He actually said it's very common. You'll see that this time of year," Denton said.


WATCH: Hundreds of birds found dead along I-35W in Burleson.

                       


He was told large groups of birds often die together due to a combination of cold weather swings, disease, and lack of food.

Denton looked closely at the grackle’s intestines during an autopsy.

"It doesn't look like he's eaten at all. His GI tract is completely empty,” he said. “No food in his crop. Completely empty."

It could take weeks to learn whether the birds died from something other than natural causes. - WFAA.



SOLAR WATCH: The Celestial Convergence - As The Moon Eclipse The Sun In A "Lunar Transit," Big Sunspot AR1967 Unleashes Strong M9-Class Solar Flare And Coronal Mass Ejection; Not Earth-Directed!

January 30, 2014 - SUN - Big sunspot AR1967 unleashed a strong M6-class solar flare on January 30th at approximately 1617 UTC.


An eruption in the vicinity of sunspot 1967.

A moderately strong solar flare reaching M6.6 was just observed around sunspot 1967 at 16:11 UTC.

The explosion hurled a CME into space.  A type II radio emission with a velocity of 2161 km/s was detected, preceding the CME.


The CME generated by the M6.6 event around 1967 is now visible in the latest LASCO C3 imagery.

A coronal mass ejection (CME) is now becoming visible in the latest STEREO Behind coronagraph imagery.

Because the sunspot is still not in a good geoeffective position, it is likely that most of the ejected material would be directed away from Earth.


WATCH: Strong M6.6 Solar & Flare Filament Eruption - January 30, 2014.



ALERT: Type II Radio Emission
Begin Time: 2014 Jan 30 1601 UTC
Estimated Velocity: 2161 km/s
Description: Type II emissions occur in association with eruptions on the sun and typically indicate a coronal mass ejection is associated with a flare event.

SUMMARY: 10cm Radio Burst
Begin Time: 2014 Jan 30 1553 UTC
Maximum Time: 2014 Jan 30 1605 UTC
End Time: 2014 Jan 30 1622 UTC
Duration: 29 minutes
Peak Flux: 220 sfu

Earlier, after a day of relative rest and relaxation, sunspot 1967 produced a pair of M-Class flares early this morning. The largest was an M2.1 event at 06:39 UTC. It was followed up by a longer duration M1.1 event peaking at 08:11 UTC. A coronal mass ejection became visible just after the time of the second event in LASCO C2 imagery. So far it appears to be headed mostly to the south and east. The active region remains complex and could produce additional moderate to strong solar flares within the next 24-48 hours.


WATCH: Sunspot 1967 - M2.1 and M1.1 solar flares.



Here is an updated look at the visible solar disk on Thursday.


 All other active regions remain stable. Sunspots 1959 and 1960 will both be rotating onto the west limb by Friday.


LUNAR TRANSIT OF THE SUN:
The Moon has just finished eclipsing the sun. No, you didn't miss it. The "lunar transit" was only visible from space. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the whole thing from Earth orbit.



At maximum eclipse as much as 90% of the sun was covered. SDO is solar powered, but it did not "brown out" because mission controllers put an extra charge on the spacecraft's batteries ahead of time.

Every year, SDO observes multiple lunar transits. This one, lasting almost 2.5 hours, was the longest in the history of the spacecraft's 4 year mission.

SOURCES: Space Weather | Solar Ham.



GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Scientists Find Huge Magma Chamber Below Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano!

January 30, 2014 - HAWAII - Geologists say they've confirmed the existence of a previously unknown large, deep magma chamber below Hawaii's Kilauea volcano.


Credit: USGS

The discovery offers new insight into the largely unknown internal plumbing of volcanoes, scientists at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science reported Wednesday.

The finding at the world's most active volcano is the first geophysical observation that large magma chambers exist in the deeper parts of a volcano system, they said.

The scientists analyzed seismic waves moving through the volcano to understand the internal structure of the volcanic system, finding a lava chamber at least a mile in diameter and located at a depth of 5 miles to 6.8 miles.

"It was known before that Kilauea had small, shallow magma chambers," geologists and lead study author Guoqing Lin said. "This study is the first geophysical observation that large magma chambers exist in the deep oceanic crust below."

The magma reservoir below Kilauea is similar to those widely observed beneath volcanoes located at mid-ocean ridges, the researchers said.

"Understanding these magma bodies are a high priority because of the hazard posed by the volcano," said geophysics Professor Falk Amelung, the study co-author. "Kilauea volcano produces many small earthquakes and paying particular attention to new seismic activity near this body will help us to better understand where future lava eruptions will come from." - UPI.



SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: Never-Before-Seen Faint River Of Hydrogen Flowing Through Intergalactic Space - Clandestinely Fueling Star Formation!

January 30, 2014 - SPACE - Using the National Science Foundation’s Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT), astronomer D.J. Pisano from West Virginia University has discovered what could be a never-before-seen river of hydrogen flowing through space. This very faint, very tenuous filament of gas is streaming into the nearby galaxy NGC 6946 and may help explain how certain spiral galaxies keep up their steady pace of star formation.


Credit: D.J. Pisano (WVU); B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF); Palomar Observatory – Space Telescope Science
Institute 2nd Digital Sky Survey (Caltech); Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope


“We knew that the fuel for star formation had to come from somewhere. So far, however, we’ve detected only about 10 percent of what would be necessary to explain what we observe in many galaxies,” said Pisano. “A leading theory is that rivers of hydrogen – known as cold flows – may be ferrying hydrogen through intergalactic space, clandestinely fueling star formation. But this tenuous hydrogen has been simply too diffuse to detect, until now.”

Spiral galaxies, like our own Milky Way, typically maintain a rather tranquil but steady pace of star formation. Others, like NGC 6946, which is located approximately 22 million light-years from Earth on the border of the constellations Cepheus and Cygnus, are much more active, though less-so than more extreme starburst galaxies. This raises the question of what is fueling the sustained star formation in this and similar spiral galaxies.

Earlier studies of the galactic neighborhood around NGC 6946 with the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope (WSRT) in the Netherlands have revealed an extended halo of hydrogen (a feature commonly seen in spiral galaxies, which may be formed by hydrogen ejected from the disk of the galaxy by intense star formation and supernova explosions). A cold flow, however, would be hydrogen from a completely different source: gas from intergalactic space that has never been heated to extreme temperatures by a galaxy’s star birth or supernova processes.

Using the GBT, Pisano was able to detect the glow emitted by neutral hydrogen gas connecting NGC 6946 with its cosmic neighbors. This signal was simply below the detection threshold of other telescopes. The GBT’s unique capabilities, including its immense single dish, unblocked aperture, and location in the National Radio Quiet Zone, enabled it to detect this tenuous radio light.

Astronomers have long theorized that larger galaxies could receive a constant influx of cold hydrogen by syphoning it off other less-massive companions.

In looking at NGC 6946, the GBT detected just the sort of filamentary structure that would be present in a cold flow, though there is another probable explanation for what has been observed. It’s also possible that sometime in the past this galaxy had a close encounter and passed by its neighbors, leaving a ribbon of neutral atomic hydrogen in its wake.

If that were the case, however, there should be a small but observable population of stars in the filaments. Further studies will help to confirm the nature of this observation and could shine light on the possible role that cold flows play in the evolution of galaxies.

The 100-meter GBT is operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and located in the National Radio Quiet Zone and the West Virginia Radio Astronomy Zone, which protect the incredibly sensitive telescope from unwanted radio interference.

The composite image at the top of the page contains three distinct features: the bright star-filled central region of galaxy NGC 6946 in optical light (blue), the dense hydrogen tracing out the galaxy’s sweeping spiral arms and galactic halo (orange), and the extremely diffuse and extended field of hydrogen engulfing NGC 6946 and its companions (red). The new GBT data show the faintly glowing hydrogen bridging the gulf between the larger galaxy and its smaller companions. This faint structure is precisely what astronomers expect to appear as hydrogen flows from the intergalactic medium into galaxies or from a past encounter between galaxies. - Daily Galaxy.



MASS BIRD DIE-OFF: Very Extreme Weather Is Killing Baby Penguins At The Bottom Tip Of South America - 65% Die Annually Over The Last 27 Years?!

January 30, 2014 - SOUTH AMERICA - Climate change means more extreme weather and baby penguins are paying the price with their lives, said a pair of long-term studies out Wednesday.


A baby Magellanic penguin is seen in Tokyo on June 14, 2013
(AFP/File, Kazuhiro Nogi)

Soaking rainstorms and unusual heat have killed vast numbers of young Magellanic penguins at the bottom tip of South America, said one of the papers published in the journal PLOS ONE.

"It's the first long-term study to show climate change having a major impact on chick survival and reproductive success," said lead author Dee Boersma, a biology professor at the University of Washington.

Over the course of 27 years, an average of 65 percent of chicks died annually, said the study.

About 40 percent starved, while climate change was blamed for killing an average of seven percent of chicks per year.

However, climate change killed 43 and 50 percent of all new chicks in two extreme weather years.

The chicks were particularly susceptible when they were nine to 23 days old and too large to be protected by their parents but too young to have grown waterproof feathers.

"We're going to see years where almost no chicks survive if climate change makes storms bigger and more frequent during vulnerable times of the breeding season as climatologists predict," said co-author Ginger Rebstock.


Three Magellanic penguin chicks at the San Francisco Zoo in San Francisco, California, on August 10, 2010
(Getty/AFP/File, Justin Sullivan)

The study was carried out in Punta Tombo, Argentina, at the world's largest breeding area for Magellanic penguins.

The other study in PLOS ONE focused on Adelie penguins in Antarctica.

These penguins were tracked over the course of 13 years to see how the breaking off of giant icebergs impacted their survival.

In 2001, two massive icebergs encroached on the penguins' foraging grounds in the Ross Sea.

The icebergs "dramatically" cut back on the penguins' access to prey, but many were still able to raise a chick, said lead researcher Amelie Lescroel from the French National Center for Scientific Research.

However, she added, if extreme events like this happen more often, "it will become very hard to predict how penguin populations will buffer future sea ice changes." - AFP.



ICE AGE NOW: A Year Without Spring - Six More Weeks Of Winter To Grip Half Of The United States?!

January 30, 2014 - UNITED STATES - Though Phil has a few more days to prognosticate the next six weeks, the AccuWeather.com long-range forecasting team already predicts that the nation will be split in half: cold and snow will linger in the Northern states, while spring will get an earlier start in the southern half.




Where Will Cold Linger?

Wintry weather is forecast to hold longest across the the Great Lakes, Northeast and mid-Atlantic.
Cold air masses and a few snowstorms will continue to impact the regions as late as March before the winter season comes to an end.

A steady stream of warmth may not arrive for cities from Detroit to Boston and New York City until mid- to late spring.

"For the next six weeks in the Northeast, we're going to be dealing with some pretty good cold coming down out of northern Canada," AccuWeather.com Lead Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said.

"I still think there's going to be a few systems of significance before the winter season is over with."

Similarly, snow and shots of cold air will persist across the northern Plains and Upper Midwest.

Where Will Spring Get an Early Start?

The best chances for an early spring will be found in the Southwest. Below-normal snowpack and dry conditions will contribute to a mild end of winter.

California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona, where severe drought conditions persist, will warm early. Areas farther east, into Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, will begin feeling spring's warmth in March.

A slower transition to spring will sweep the nation's midsection, however, from Washington across the central Plains and down to the interior Southeast.

Florida will mark the exception, where a quick warmup is in store.


WATCH: AccuWeather forecast for spring.



Spring Flooding Versus Drought Concerns

There is a slight chance for spring flooding for the Tennessee Valley and lower Ohio Valley. Above-normal snowfall has fallen across the Ohio Valley this winter so far, and potentially more wet systems in the forecast could result in a moderate rise in rivers and streams.

On the other side of the spectrum, little improvement is coming for the dire drought situation in the West.

Pastelok believes March could usher in some rain for California, but the impact will be minimal and the situation will remain serious moving forward, with no significant relief in sight.

As of Jan. 21, more than 60 percent of the West was experiencing moderate to exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Earlier this month, the San Francisco National Weather Service office called the situation a phase of drought "largely unseen by many alive today."

Dryness will also prevail in Florida through the springtime, though the situation will be far less severe than in the West. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, portions of the state are abnormally dry for late January. Since Oct. 1, Orlando, Fla., has received less than 30 percent of the city's normal rainfall for the period.

"I do feel they'll get a little bit of rain going forward in the next few weeks; however, I think they could back in a dry pattern before they actually get into their wet season in June," Pastelok said.

Severe Weather Threats

After a below-normal severe weather season in 2013, this year is forecast to follow suit.

"Last year's severe weather season was a quiet season," Pastelok said. "A lot of it had to do with a lot of cold, stable air in place and I see that same situation setting up for this year."

While the season is anticipated to be below normal, it will be more eventful than 2013.

A few episodes of severe weather are possible in the Gulf Coast, where some severe tornado outbreaks occurred in 2013, Pastelok warns.

"I think you have to be concerned there again this year," he said. - AccuWeather.



FIRE IN THE SKY: NASA Preparing For 2014 Comet Watch At Planet Mars - Comet C/2013 A1 Sidung Spring Will Put On A "Barnstorming Show" Over The Red Planet On October 19, 2014; 10 Times Close Than Any Identified Comet Has Ever Flown Past Earth!

January 30, 2014 - SPACE - This spring, NASA will be paying cautious attention to a comet that could put on a barnstorming show at Mars on Oct. 19, 2014.




On that date, comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring will buzz Mars about 10 times closer than any identified comet has ever flown past Earth.

Spacecraft at Mars might get a good look at the nucleus of comet Siding Spring as it heads toward the closest approach, roughly 86,000 miles (138,000 kilometers) from the planet, give or take a few percent. On the other hand, dust particles that the comet nucleus sheds this spring could threaten orbiting spacecraft at Mars in October.

The level of risk won’t be known for months, but NASA is already evaluating possible precautionary measures as it prepares for studying the comet.

"Our plans for using spacecraft at Mars to observe comet Siding Spring will be coordinated with plans for how the orbiters will duck and cover, if we need to do that," said Rich Zurek, Mars Exploration Program chief scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Comet Siding Spring, formally named C/2013 A1, was discovered on Jan. 3, 2013, from Australia's Siding Spring Observatory. At the time, it was farther from the sun than Jupiter is. Subsequent observations enabled scientists at JPL and elsewhere to calculate the trajectory the comet will follow as it swings past Mars. Observations in 2014 will continue to refine knowledge of the comet's path, but in approximate terms, Siding Spring's nucleus will come about as close to Mars as one-third of the distance between Earth and the moon.

Comet Ready for Its Close-up


Observations of comet Siding Spring are planned using resources on Earth, orbiting Earth, on Mars and orbiting Mars, and some are already underway. NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the NEOWISE mission have observed the comet this month both to characterize this first-time visitor from the Oort cloud and to study dust particle sizes and amounts produced by the comet for understanding potential risks to the Mars orbiters. Infrared imaging by NEOWISE reveals a comet that is active and dusty, even though still nearly three-fourths as far from the sun as Jupiter is. Ground-based observatories such as the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility are also expected to join in as the comet becomes favorably positioned for viewing.

As the comet nears Mars, NASA assets there will be used to study this visitor from distant reaches of the solar system.

"We could learn about the nucleus -- its shape, its rotation, whether some areas on its surface are darker than others," Zurek said.


WATCH:  NASA's ScienceCasts - Collision Course, A Comet Heads For Planet Mars.




Researchers using spacecraft at Mars gained experience at trying to observe a different comet in 2013, as comet ISON (formally C/2012 S1) approached Mars. That comet's Mars-flyby distance was about 80 times farther than Siding Spring's will be. Another difference is that ISON continued inward past Mars for nearly two months, briefly becoming visible to some unaided-eye skywatchers on Earth before flying very close to the sun and disintegrating. Siding Spring will reach its closest approach to the sun just six days after its Mars flyby. It won't put on a show for Earth, and it won't return to the inner solar system for about a million years.

At comet Siding Spring's flyby distance, the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter could provide imagery with resolution of dozens of pixels across the diameter of the nucleus. When HiRISE observed comet ISON, the nucleus was less than one pixel across. ISON did not get bright enough to make itself visible to other cameras at Mars that made attempted observations, but Siding Spring could provide a better observation opportunity.

Cameras on the Mars rovers Curiosity and Opportunity might watch for meteors in the sky that would be an indication of the abundance of particles in the comet's tail, though the geometry of the flyby would put most of the meteors in daytime sky instead of dark sky.

"A third aspect for investigation could be what effect the infalling particles have on the upper atmosphere of Mars," Zurek said. "They might heat it and expand it, not unlike the effect of a global dust storm." Infrared-sensing instruments on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Odyssey might be used to watch for that effect.

Assessing Possible Hazards to Mars Orbiters


One trait Siding Spring shares with ISON is unpredictability about how much it will brighten in the months before passing Mars. The degree to which Siding Spring brightens this spring will be an indicator of how much hazard it will present to spacecraft at Mars.

"It's way too early for us to know how much of a threat Siding Spring will be to our orbiters," JPL's Soren Madsen, Mars Exploration Program chief engineer, said last week. "It could go either way. It could be a huge deal or it could be nothing -- or anything in between."

The path the nucleus will take is now known fairly well. The important unknowns are how much dust will come off the nucleus, when it will come off, and the geometry of the resulting coma and tail of the comet.

During April and May, the comet will cross the range of distances from the sun at which water ice on a comet's surface typically becomes active -- vaporizing and letting dust particles loose. Dust ejected then could get far enough from the nucleus by October to swarm around Mars.

"How active will Siding Spring be in April and May? We'll be watching that," Madsen said. "But if the red alarm starts sounding in May, it would be too late to start planning how to respond. That's why we're doing what we're doing right now."

Two key strategies to lessen risk are to get orbiters behind Mars during the minutes of highest risk and to orient orbiters so that the most vulnerable parts are not in the line of fire.


NASA's NEOWISE mission captured images of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring, which is slated to make a close
pass by Mars on Oct. 19, 2014.  The infrared pictures reveal a comet that is active and very dusty even though
it was about 355 million miles (571 million kilometers) away from the sun on Jan. 16, 2014,
when this picture was taken.  Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Martian atmosphere, thin as it is, is dense enough to prevent dust from the comet from becoming a hazard to NASA's two Mars rovers active on the surface. Three orbiters are currently active at Mars: NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and Mars Odyssey, and the European Space Agency's Mars Express. Two more departed Earth in late 2013 and are due to enter orbit around Mars about three weeks before the comet Siding Spring flyby: NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) and India's Mars Orbiter Mission.

Orbiters are designed with the risk of space-dust collisions in mind. Most such collisions do not damage a mission. Design factors such as blanketing and protected placement of vulnerable components help. Over a five-year span for a Mars orbiter, NASA figures on a few percent chance of significant damage to a spacecraft from the background level of impacts from such particles, called meteoroids. Whether the Siding Spring level will pack that much hazard -- or perhaps greater than 10 times more -- into a few hours will depend on how active it becomes.

This comet is orbiting the sun in almost the opposite direction as Mars and the other planets. The nucleus and the dust particles it sheds will be travelling at about 35 miles (56 kilometers) per second, relative to the Mars orbiters. That's about 50 times faster than a bullet from a high-powered rifle and double or triple the velocity of background meteoroid impacts.

Cautionary Preparations


If managers choose to position orbiters behind Mars during the peak risk, the further in advance any orbit-adjustment maneuvers can be made, the less fuel will be consumed. Advance work is also crucial for the other main option: reorienting a spacecraft to keep its least-vulnerable side facing the oncoming stream of comet particles. The safest orientation in terms of comet dust may be a poor one for maintaining power or communications.


In this graphic, the orbit of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring swings around the sun in 2014. On Oct. 19, the
comet will pass just 86,000 miles (138,000 kilometers) from Mars. Its nucleus will miss, but its coma of
dust particles might envelop Mars. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

"These changes would require a huge amount of testing," Madsen said. "There's a lot of preparation we need to do now, to prepare ourselves in case we learn in May that the flyby will be hazardous."

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the NASA's Mars Exploration Program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. For more information about the flyby of Mars by comet Siding Spring, visit http://mars.nasa.gov/comets/sidingspring/ .

For more about the Mars Exploration Program, visit http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov. - NASA.