Brief Communication | Published:

Extraterrestrial meteors

A martian meteor and its parent comet

Nature volume 435, page 581 (02 June 2005) | Download Citation



Regular meteor showers occur when a planet approaches the orbit of a periodic comet — for example, the Leonid shower is evident around 17 November every year as Earth skims past the dusty trail of comet Tempel–Tuttle. Such showers are expected to occur on Mars as well, and on 7 March last year, the panoramic camera of Spirit, the Mars Exploration Rover, revealed a curious streak across the martian sky. Here we show that the timing and orientation of this streak, and the shape of its light curve, are consistent with the existence of a regular meteor shower associated with the comet Wiseman–Skiff, which could be characterized as martian Cepheids.

An image of an extraterrestrial meteor was captured as a strange streak in the sky over Mars last year.

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Author information


  1. * Centre de Recherche Astronomique de Lyon, École Normale Supérieure, 69364 Lyon, France

    • Franck Selsis
  2. † Texas A&M University, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, College Station, Texas 77843-3150, USA

    • Mark T. Lemmon
  3. ‡ IMCCE, Observatoire de Paris, 75014 Paris, France

    • Jérémie Vaubaillon
  4. § Cornell University, Department of Astronomy, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA

    • James F. Bell III


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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Franck Selsis.

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