Mars spacecraft preparing for Comet Siding Spring's close flyby

As Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring heads toward a close flyby of Mars on October 19, 2014, NASA and ESA are both taking steps to protect their Mars orbiters, while still preserving opportunities to gather valuable scientific data. Six days after passing Mars, the comet will reach its closest approach to the Sun (perihelion) at about 209 million km (130 million miles).It will be the second comet to visit Mars in 12 months, following Comet ISON in October 2013. ISON passed some 10 000 000 km from the planet, but Siding Spring will fly by much closer. Current estimates put Siding Spring’s miss distance at just about 132 000 km (82 000 miles) from the surface.The comet’s nucleus will be shedding material hurtling at about 56 kilometers (35 mil… »

Source: Solar News

Hundreds of fires covered central Africa in mid-July 2014

Hundreds of fires covered central Africa in mid-July 2014, as the annual fire season continues across the region. Multiple red hotspots, which indicate areas of increased temperatures, are heavily sprinkled across the Congo (northwest), Angola (south), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (northeast), and Zambia (southeast).Thick gray smoke rises from some of the hotspots, and in some areas, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, strong winds drive the smoke to the south.The fire season is an annual event in this region, as residents burn scrub, brush and woody savanna to open land for farming, for hunting and to drive away pests. Fire is also used on agricultural land to renew pasture grown and remove crop residue. Although lightning can also ignite fires in this region,… »

Source: Solar News

New vent opens up at Etna volcano, Italy

A new vent opened yesterday morning at 09:14 UTC at Etna volcano, Italy. The new vent is located about 150 – 200 metres north of the two previous vents at the eastern base of the NE crater.Its activity is characterized by small strombolian explosions while a lava flow continues to be weakly alimented from one of the two other vents, VolcanoDiscovery repots.Termal image of the effusive vents at the base of the NE crater with graph volcanic tremors in last 6 days. Images credit: INGV CataniaGeologic summaryMount Etna, towering above Catania, Sicily’s second largest city, has one of the world’s longest documented records of historical volcanism, dating back to 1500 BCE. Historical lava flows of basaltic composition cover much of the surface of this massive volcano, whos… »

Source: Solar News