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NASA Mars Exploration Program
NASA dazzled, puzzled by comet Siding Spring data
NASA dazzled, puzzled by comet Siding Spring data

Thousands of shooting stars per hour scraped a yellowed Martian sky last month as a comet blazed through the red planet's atmosphere at 35 miles per second. Unfortunately, no one was there to experience the spectacular pass of Siding Spring on Oct. 19, and the remote images and data from the close encounter were not nearly so dramatic. Still, the space agency has learned surprising things from its  extremely rare observations of a comet composed of the matter that formed the inner solar system, scientists said Friday. “The comet’s dust slammed into the upper atmosphere, creating a massive and dense ionospheric layer, and literally changed the chemistry of the...

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