Could a comet clobber Mars next year?

A comet is due to make a close pass to Mars in October 2014 — perhaps even striking the red planet.

Is the red planet about to turn black and blue?

At the end of next year it could, if a comet headed its way makes contact. Comet C/2013 A1 will skim past Mars on Oct. 19, 2014, perhaps close enough to hit the planet, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

JPL predicts the most likely course for the comet will take it within 0.0007 astronomical units (AU) of Mars, approximately 63,000 miles from the surface. One AU is approximately 93 million miles.

But that figure is far from certain.

As Discovery News reported, the comet has only been observed for 74 days so far, meaning there is little data with which to forecast its future path. It could end up much farther than 63,000 miles from Mars — or much, much closer.

Related from MSN: Tycoon proposes to send married couple around Mars

Due to the limited data, the size of the comet is also uncertain, though comets do tend to be large enough make an impact a global event.

Discovery reported that Earth's rovers and satellites on or near Mars could get front row seats for the impact — if it occurs. For now though, they, and Mars, are safe.


Earth has had its share of close calls recently as well.

A 150-foot asteroid buzzed past Earth at a distance of just 17,150 miles on Feb. 15. It was the closest approach for an asteroid of its size.

More from MSN: Update: Asteroid 2012 DA14 passes by Earth Friday

The same day, a meteor blazed across the sky in Russia, injuring as many as 1,000 people.


MSN News on Facebook and Twitter

Stay up to date on breaking news and current events.

Friend us on Facebook:

Follow us on Twitter: