India's Mars Orbiter is set to encounter its first comet in space as Comet Siding Spring is expected to fly close to the red planet on Sunday.
To ensure Mangalyaan, as the Mars Orbiter Mission is popularly called, is at a safe distance from the comet so that it is not affected by the debris, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has repositioned the spacecraft.
According to NASA, the comet will come within about 87,000 miles of Mars on 19 October.
"We have repositioned the Mars Orbiter, as the comet Siding Spring is expected to be close to the Mars on October 19. We have taken the Orbiter to a position farthest from the tail of the comet so that it doesn't affect the satellite," AS Kiran Kumar, director, Space Application Centre, Ahmedabad, told Press Trust of India.
Apart from ISRO, NASA and the other two space agencies from Europe and Russia, who have sent their missions to Mars, are also taking precautionary measures to prevent any collision with the space debris, PTI reported.
"Comet Siding Spring C/2013 A1 will make a very close flyby of Mars on Oct. 19, 2014. NASA is taking steps to protect its Mars orbiters, while preserving opportunities to gather valuable scientific data," NASA said on its website.
The space agencies are concerned that the comet might create space debris as it moves along the planet, which could put the spacecrafts at risk.
NASA has uploaded a stunning animation representing the encounter of the comet with Mars in this animation video.
According to experts, Comet Siding Spring's close trip around Mars on Sunday will be a rare space encounter and the comet will be moving at a high speed of 56 km per second, as described by The Planetary Society, in this video.