*Dates and times are in UTC.
timeline icon

Several weeks prior to closest approach

timeline icon
July 2

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) orbit maneuver to put spacecraft behind Mars (1st of 2)

timeline icon
August 5

Odyssey orbit maneuver to put spacecraft behind Mars

timeline icon
August 6

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) CRISM/HiRISE stellar scan to check boresite

timeline icon
August 11

1st Comet Siding Spring workshop.
Watch Archived Workshop >>.

timeline icon
September 19

2nd Comet Siding Spring workshop.
Presentations

timeline icon
September 21

MAVEN Orbit Insertion.(September 21, 10pm EDT)

timeline icon
September 24

Opportunity will take a test PanCam image of twilight sky

timeline icon
September 24

India's Mars Orbit Mission (MOM) Orbit Insertion

timeline icon
September 25

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) orbit maneuver to put spacecraft behind Mars (2nd of 2)

timeline icon
October 7

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) HIRISE imaging of comet.

timeline icon
October 8

Curiosity will take a test Mastcam image of the twilight sky

timeline icon

10 days to closest approach

timeline icon
October 9

MAVEN last course correction to put spacecraft behind Mars at time of peak flux.

timeline icon
October 12 and later

Curiosity and Opportunity may image comet at night.

timeline icon
October 13

Curiosity will take test spectral images with Mastcam and Chemcam

timeline icon
October 15

Opportunity will do a dry run of comet imaging, aimed at the comet (although the comet may not be bright enough to detect against the dusty night sky).

timeline icon

5 days to closest approach

timeline icon
October 17

MAVEN will image the comet with the IUVS.

timeline icon
October 17-19

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) (HiRISE, CRISM, CTX) will image the comet.

timeline icon
October 17-19

MAVEN will monitor the Mars upper atmosphere and solar wind (IUVS, SEP, SWIA, SWEA, STATIC, MAG, LPW, NGIMS).

timeline icon
October 17-19

Curiosity may image comet at night using the ChemCam, Mastcam.

timeline icon

2 hours before closest approach

timeline icon
October 19

Opportunity may image the comet with PanCam.

timeline icon
October 19

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) imaging of the comet (CRISM, HiRISE, CTX).

timeline icon
October 19

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) (MCS, MARCI, SHARAD) will monitor Mars' atmosphere.

timeline icon
October 19

Odyssey (THEMIS) imaging of the comet. Thermal IR and visible imaging of the coma.

timeline icon
October 19

MAVEN goes into planned "minimum risk" mode ~45 min prior to Closest Approach. LPW, SEP, MAG continue to operate.

timeline icon

During closest approach

timeline icon
October 19 11:27 a.m.
PT/2:27 p.m. ET/18:27 UT

Comet Siding Spring (C/2013 A1) Closest Approach to Mars at 87,000 miles (139,500 kilometers).

timeline icon
October 19

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) imaging of the comet (CRISM, HiRISE, CTX). Comet nucleus may be a few pixels wide in the image

timeline icon

After closest approach

timeline icon
October 19 closest approach + 20 minutes

Mars will skirt the comet coma.

timeline icon
October 19 closest approach + 90 minutes

Odyssey will take several thermal IR and visible images of the comet and tail

timeline icon
October 19 closest approach + 90 minutes

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) (CRISM and HiRISE) to image the nucleus and CTX rides-along. Other instruments (MCS, MARCI, SHARAD) take observations of Mars' atmosphere to identify atmospheric interactions with comet particles.

timeline icon
October 19 closest approach + 2.5 hours

Curiosity may image comet at night using the ChemCam, Mastcam.

timeline icon
October 19 closest approach + 2.5 hours

MAVEN will leave "minimum risk" mode. Spacecraft and instrument status will be checked over the next orbit, then science observations of Mars will resume, to get "after the comet" observations.

timeline icon
October 19 closest approach + 5 hours

Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter (MRO) (HiRISE, CRISM, CTX) will image the comet.

timeline icon
October 19 closest approach + 10 hours

Opportunity may image the comet using the PanCam.

timeline icon
October 20

Opportunity and Curiosity may image the comet after closest approach.

timeline icon
October 20

Spacecraft will begin to report back to Earth their health and safety status (this schedule is still uncertain on which spacecraft will call home first).

timeline icon
October 20 - 21

Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter (MRO) (MCS, MARCI, SHARAD) monitors the Mars' atmosphere.

timeline icon
October 20 - 21

MAVEN will resume atmospheric science (IUVS, SEP, SWIA, SWEA, STATIC, MAG, LPW, NGIMS)

timeline icon
October 21

Odyssey (THEMIS) images the comet with planet limb.

*Descriptions are current as of 10-7-14 but are subject to change.