Newswise — Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) is calculated to have an extremely close brush with Mars on October 19, 2014, passing within 82,000 miles (130,000 km.) of the planet, as well as the flotilla of robotic spacecraft in its orbit and on its surface. Mars will be closer to this comet than Earth has been to any other comet fly-by in recorded history. This represents an unprecedented opportunity to use existing space assets for comprehensive study of a dynamically-new, long-period Oort Cloud comet.

The Siding Spring Observing Campaign, organized by the NASA-backed Coordinated Investigations Of Comets (CIOC), is encouraging and facilitating an Earth and space-based observing campaign for Comet Siding Spring (CSS) prior to, during, and after its encounter with Mars. To this end, a workshop will be held on Monday, August 11, 2014 at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.

The goals of the workshop are: discuss existing plans for Mars-based, Earth-based, and space-based observation of the comet; facilitate collaborations between observers and modelers in the comet and Mars communities; debate strategies for maximizing scientific return.

The media is invited to attend the event in person (seating is limited, please contact APL public affairs, details below), or watch via Livestream, and submit questions via WebEx to the assembled astronomers and comet experts.

When: Monday, Aug. 11 2014 / 7:30 am – 7 pm (see details under “Duration”)

Where: The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU APL)Building 200 (South campus), 11101 Johns Hopkins Road, Laurel, MD 20723-6099Map and Directions available

Purpose: • Determine if Comet Siding Spring (CSS) is being observed at all possible wavelengths using all possible platforms. • Survey what is known about the comet currently. • Get observers talking to each other. • Get data needed by Mars projects pre-close approach (CA) to ensure spacecraft safety.

Duration: Total of 11 hrs., 30 min. of presentations/discussion. There are approximately 25 presentations total.

Live Streaming: Event will be viewable at Livestream, URL to be announced shortly. Media may submit questions via WebEx; please contact Geoff Brown at APL (below) for details.

Media contact: Geoff Brown / JHU APL - [email protected] - (240) 228-5618Media planning to attend the event at APL should contact Geoff Brown to register and reserve seating.

SCHEDULE (subject to change)Introduction / NASA speakers 8:45 • Scheduled are:o NASA Planetary Science Division director Jim Greeno NASA Discovery Program executive Lindley Johnsono NASA Mars program scientist Kelly Fast

Overview 9:00 – 9:50• Comet Siding Spring in context; the campaign; focus on Close Approach day (Oct. 19, 2014)• Hazard modeling results & what we can expect from the encounter

Spacecraft Based Observations 9:50 – 12:30 Researchers will discuss use of the following observatories:• Hubble Space Telescope, SWIFT, Spitzer, WISE, Herschel, STEREO/HI2 & SOHO/SWAN, Chandra, BOPPS

Lunch 12:30 – 13:30

Earth Based Observations 13:30-15:15• TRAPPIST, Crni Vrh/COBS, Professional/Amateur collaborations, IRTF, VLT, Subaru; Radio – ALMA, APEX, Arecibo• Professional/Amateur Summary of Observations to Date + Future Plans

Mars Based Observations 15:30– 17:45• MRO, MAVEN, Mars Odyssey, MSL/Opportunity, MOM, MEX

Summary 17:45 – 18:15

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