The comet, dubbed C/2013 A1 Siding Spring, was discovered in early-2013 when it lay beyond the orbit of Jupiter. Its orbit, though, is bringing it to perihelion 209 million km from the Sun less than six days after it passes Mars. Indeed, there was early speculation that it might even hit the planet with untold consequences.
Calculations now confirm that the comet's nucleus, several kilometres across, will miss Mars at a range of 130,000km, and with an uncertainty of 8,000km or so. Dust spreading away from the nucleus may well reach Mars, though, causing problems for the orbiters and giving a nice meteor display for any watching Martians.
Efforts have already started to adjust the orbits of
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