This graphic shows Mars in the middle with a blue line running from top to bottom of the planet representing the comets flight path.  The comet and coma intersect that line at the top of Mars.  Three Mars orbiters are hiding behind the planet, away from the comet coma and particles.  An orange line/arrow crosses from right to left showing the direction of Mars.

October 09, 2014

This artist's concept shows the NASA Mars orbiters lining up behind Mars for their “duck and cover” maneuver to shield them from comet dust that may result from the close flyby of Comet Siding Spring (C/2013 A1) on Oct. 19, 2014.

The comet's nucleus will miss Mars by about 87,000 miles (139,500 kilometers), shedding material hurtling at about 35 miles (56 kilometers) per second, relative to Mars and Mars-orbiting spacecraft.

NASA is taking steps to protect its Mars orbiters, while preserving opportunities to gather valuable scientific data. The NASA orbiters at Mars are Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Odyssey and MAVEN.

Credit

NASA/JPL-Caltech

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