Comet Chases Mars Orbiters
It was a close encounter of the comet kind. A giant comet buzzed Mars over the weekend, coming into relatively close proximity with NASA's three orbiters there: Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter. NASA was concerned about the release of dust from the comet, which could potentially gum up the parts on the orbiters.
In a preemptive move, NASA ordered the orbiters to hide behind Mars for a cosmic game of hide and seek to minimize exposure to particles. \"The comet sped past Mars today much closer than any other know comet flyby of a planet,\" NASA reported Sunday. It came within 88,000 miles of Mars. All three orbiters checked back in with headquarters after the flyby to report themselves as healthy.