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MSL/Curiosity looks like comet while traveling toward Mars

curiosity-looks-like-comet-while-traveling-toward-mars

Astronomers at the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium in Australia took incredible time-lapse video . The sequence shows a plume drifting against the background stars, probably caused by venting from the Centaur rocket stage that sent the Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity Rover on its way to the Red Planet, after it carried out a burn over the Indian Ocean on November 26, 2011.

Brisbane Planetarium Curator Mark Rigby said that he and photographer/amateur astronomer Duncan Waldron, along with another planetarium staff member were likely the only people who saw this amazing sight, as they have received no other reports of similar observations.

Rigby first saw the plume at 2:15am local time, (16:15 UT) and said it was “a one-degree elongated cloud of very easy naked eye brightness.” Duncan Waldron also saw it starting at about 2:30pm and began to photograph it until it faded. Nonetheless, he captured a unique timelapse covering 21 minutes until 3am.

The coordinates of the observing site: -27.630779,152.966324, altitude 40m approx. (UniverseToday)

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