A comet from the outer reaches of the solar system on Sunday made a rare, close pass by Mars where a fleet of robotic science probes were poised for studies.
Comet Siding Spring passed just 87,000 miles (140,000 km) from Mars, less than half the distance between Earth and the moon and 10 times closer than any known comet has passed by Earth, NASA said.
The comet, named for the Australian observatory that discovered it last year, is believed to be a first-time visitor to the inner solar system, having departed the Oort Cloud, located beyond Neptune’s orbit, more than a million years ago.
Comets are believed to be frozen remnants left over from the formation of the solar system some 4.6 billion years ago.
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