Topic: Comet ISON
Greenbelt, MD – In February 2020, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory — SDO — is celebrating its 10th year in space. Over the past decade the spacecraft has kept a constant eye on the Sun, studying how the Sun creates solar activity and drives space weather — the dynamic conditions in space that impact the entire solar system, including Earth.
Since its launch on February 11th, 2010, SDO has collected millions of scientific images of our nearest star, giving scientists new insights into its workings.
Written by Molly Porter
Huntsville, AL – For millennia, people on Earth have watched comets in the sky. Many ancient cultures saw comets as the harbingers of doom, but today scientists know that comets are really frozen balls of dust, gas, and rock and may have been responsible for delivering water to planets like Earth billions of years ago.
While comets are inherently interesting, they can also provide information about other aspects of our Solar System. More specifically, comets can be used as laboratories to study the behavior of the stream of particles flowing away from the Sun, known as the solar wind.
Recently, astronomers announced the results of a study using data collected with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory of two comets — C/2012 S1 (also known as “Comet ISON”) and C/2011 S4 (“Comet PanSTARRS”).
Written by Guy Webster
Pasadena, CA – This spring, NASA will be paying cautious attention to a comet that could put on a barnstorming show at Mars on October 19th, 2014.
On that date, comet 2013 A1 Siding Spring will buzz Mars about 10 times closer than any identified comet has ever flown past Earth.
Spacecraft at Mars might get a good look at the nucleus of comet Siding Spring as it heads toward the closest approach, roughly 86,000 miles (138,000 kilometers) from the planet, give or take a few percent.
Written by Jia-Rui C. Cook
Pasadena, CA – A new analysis of data from NASA’s Galileo mission has revealed clay-type minerals at the surface of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa that appear to have been delivered by a spectacular collision with an asteroid or comet.
This is the first time such minerals have been detected on Europa’s surface. The types of space rocks that deliver such minerals typically also often carry organic materials.
Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Washington, D.C. – Astronomers have long known that some comets like it hot. Several of the greatest comets in history have flown close to the sun, puffing themselves up with solar heat, before they became naked-eye wonders in the night sky.
Some comets like it hot, but Comet ISON was not one of them.
The much-anticipated flyby of the sun by Comet ISON on Thanksgiving Day 2013 is over, and instead of becoming a Great Comet….
Written by Karen C. Fox
Greenbelt, MD – After several days of continued observations, scientists continue to work to determine and to understand the fate of Comet ISON: There’s no doubt that the comet shrank in size considerably as it rounded the sun and there’s no doubt that something made it out on the other side to shoot back into space.
The question remains as to whether the bright spot seen moving away from the sun was simply debris, or whether a small nucleus of the original ball of ice was still there. Regardless, it is likely that it is now only dust.
Written by Tony Phillips
Washington, D.C. – In 2007, astronomers were amazed when a solar storm hit Comet Encke. NASA STEREO spacecraft watched as a CME (coronal mass ejection) struck the comet head on and ripped off its tail.
The same thing could be in store for Comet ISON–only worse.
On November 28th, Comet ISON will pass through the sun’s atmosphere, flying little more than a million kilometers above the sun’s surface. It will be ~30 times closer to the sun than Encke was in 2007 and more likely to encounter a ferocious solar storm.
Written by Susan Hendrix
Greenbelt, MD – A comet’s journey through the solar system is perilous and violent. A giant ejection of solar material from the sun could rip its tail off.
Before it reaches Mars — at some 230 million miles away from the sun — the radiation of the sun begins to boil its water, the first step toward breaking the comet apart.
And, if it survives all this, the intense radiation and pressure as it flies near to the surface of the sun could destroy it altogether.
Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Washington, D.C. – Comet ISON is now inside the orbit of Earth as it plunges headlong toward the sun for a fiery close encounter on November 28th.
The comet is putting on a good show for observatories around the solar system, especially after an outburst on November 13th-14th that boosted the comet’s brightness 10-fold. NASA spacecraft and amateur astronomers alike are snapping crisp pictures of the comet’s gossamer green atmosphere and suddenly riotous tail.
Written by Tony Phillips
Washington, D.C. – What are the odds? On November 18th and 19th not one but two comets will fly by the planet Mercury.
“This is a unique coincidence,” says Ron Vervack an astronomer at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab and a member of the science team for NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft, “and a golden opportunity to study two comets passing close to the sun.”
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