It may kick up enough red dust to set back planned missions to Mars by several years.

On the Space.com website, Mike Wall reports that a newfound comet will give Mars a close shave next year, and there’s a slim chance that it could actually hit the Red Planet.

According to NASA, Comet 2013 A1 (Siding Spring) will come within about 31,000 miles of Mars in October 2014–However, the trajectory of the comet is still not known well enough to rule out a dramatic comet collision with Mars, though that could change.
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That’s the (rather unscientific) advice to Congress from NASA chief Charles Bolden, who basically says that if a large asteroid heads towards a big US city–as it recently did in Russia–there’s not much else we can do. He told them, "From the information we have, we don’t know of an asteroid that will threaten the population of the United States. But if it’s coming in three weeks, pray."
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Will life on Mars go the way of the dinosaurs before we have a chance to discover it? Incoming Comet C213/A1, discovered on January 1st, is expected by some astronomers to pass within 28,000 miles of Marsin 2014. But cometary trajectories change, and an impact is not impossible, although NASA estimates that the object will pass Mars at a distance more like 80,000 miles.

Should it hit the planet, it will cause a spectacular explosion, releasing the equivalent energy of billion megatons of TNT. This is roughly the size of the blast that climaxed the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
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Ever since the publication of the groundbreaking book the Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes in 2006, a controversy has raged about whether or not the explosion of a comet over southern Canada almost 13,000 years ago might have led to the catastrophic collapse of the great ice sheets and the floods that followed, that are memorialized in myths and legends around the world.

Now a new study offers further evidence that this is exactly what happened. Could it happen again?
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