Keyword: comets

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Cliffs of Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko

    12/24/2014 5:24:51 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | December 23, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: These high cliffs occur on the surface of a comet. They were discovered to be part of the dark nucleus of Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko (CG) by Rosetta, a robotic spacecraft launched by ESA which began orbiting the comet in early August. The ragged cliffs, as featured here, were imaged by Rosetta about two weeks ago. Although towering about one kilometer high, the low surface gravity of Comet CG would likely make a jump from the cliffs, by a human, survivable. At the foot of the cliffs is relatively smooth terrain dotted with boulders as large as 20 meters across. Data...
  • Meteoric Evidence Suggests Mars May Have a Subsurface Reservoir [of water]

    12/22/2014 11:13:01 AM PST · by BenLurkin · 11 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | December 22, 2014 | Matt Williams
    Basically, there is a gap between what is thought to have existed in the past, and what is observed today in the form of water ice. The findings made by Tomohiro and the international research team help to account for this. The total inventory of observable current surface water (that mostly occurs as polar ice, ~10E6 km3) is more than one order magnitude smaller than the estimated volume of ancient surface water (~10E7 to 10E8 km3) that is thought to have covered the northern lowlands, said Tomohiro. The lack of water at the surface today was problematic for advocates of...
  • A Stunning Look at the Cliffs of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

    12/16/2014 3:18:00 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 21 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on December 16, 2014 | Nancy Atkinson
    Images from space dont get more dramatic than this. Image processing wizard Stuart Atkinson zoomed in on one of the most intriguing views yet of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, highlighting the contrasts of dark and light, smooth and rugged, soft contours and frighteningly vertical cliffs.
  • Rosetta Instrument Reignites Debate on Earth's Oceans

    12/11/2014 2:15:28 AM PST · by iowamark · 26 replies
    NASA ^ | 12/10/14
    The question about the origin of oceans on Earth is one of the most important questions with respect to the formation of our planet and the origin of life. The most popular theory is that water was brought by impacts of comets and asteroids. Data from the Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis (ROSINA) instrument aboard the European Space Agencys Rosetta spacecraft indicate that terrestrial water did not come from comets like 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The findings were published today in the journal Science. Researchers agree that water must have been delivered to Earth by small bodies at a later...
  • What is the Difference Between Asteroids and Comets?

    11/19/2014 1:44:17 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 32 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on November 19, 2014 | Nancy Atkinson
    Asteroids and comets have a few things in common. They are both celestial bodies orbiting our Sun, and they both can have unusual orbits, sometimes straying close to Earth or the other planets. They are both leftovers made from materials from the formation of our Solar System 4.5 billion years ago. But there are a few notable differences between these two objects, as well. The biggest difference between comets and asteroids, however, is what they are made of. While asteroids consist of metals and rocky material, comets are made up of ice, dust, rocky materials and organic compounds. When...
  • Rosettas Comet Springs Spectacular Leaks As It Gets Closer To The Sun

    10/23/2014 1:23:11 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 15 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | October 23, 2014 | Elizabeth Howell
    The comet that the Rosetta spacecraft is visiting is shedding more dust as machine and Solar System body get closer to the Sun. While activity was first seen at the neck of the rubber-duckie shaped comet a few weeks ago, now scientists are seeing jets spring from across the comet. This is just one signal of cometary activity picking up as 67P gets closer to the Sun. For the moment, it appears the prime landing site is still safe enough for Philae to land on Nov. 19, officials said, while noting there is a jet about a kilometer away that...
  • Humans Just Got Our First Close-Up Look At A Comet And It's Mind-Blowing

    09/18/2014 11:15:44 AM PDT · by blam · 47 replies
    BI ^ | 9-8-2014 | Jessica Orwig
      Jessica Orwig September. 18, 2014.Ten years ago the European Space Agency launched Rosetta, a first-of-its-kind spacecraft on a mission to meet a comet. That comet? 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It finally accomplished that goal earlier this month — getting into the comet's orbit. But it's not done yet. This November, Rosetta will deploy a small probe that, if successful, will land on the comet — the first time we've ever made contact with a space rock (intentionally). Before Rosetta, we knew comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as just a speck of light — as we do most comets. It's hard to really see what...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- 62 Kilometers above Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko

    09/14/2014 10:40:53 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies
    NASA ^ | September 15, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Spacecraft Rosetta continues to approach, circle, and map Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Crossing the inner Solar System for ten years to reach the vicinity of the comet last month, the robotic spacecraft continues to image the unusual double-lobed comet nucleus. The reconstructed-color image featured, taken about 10 days ago, indicates how dark this comet nucleus is. On the average, the comet's surface reflects only about four percent of impinging visible light, making it as dark as coal. Comet 67P/ChuryumovGerasimenko spans about four kilometers in length and has a surface gravity so low that an astronaut could jump off of it. In...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Jacques, Heart and Soul

    08/23/2014 8:13:44 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | August 22, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: On July 13th, a good place to watch Comet Jacques was from Venus. Then, the recently discovered visitor (C/2014 E2) to the inner solar system passed within about 14.5 million kilometers of our sister planet. But the outbound comet will pass only 84 million kilometers from our fair planet on August 28 and is already a fine target for telescopes and binoculars. Two days ago Jacques' greenish coma and straight and narrow ion tail were captured in this telescopic snapshot, a single 2 minute long exposure with a modified digital camera. The comet is flanked by IC 1805 and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Contrasting Terrains on Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko

    08/23/2014 7:58:55 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 21 replies
    NASA ^ | August 19, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Where should Philae land? As ESA's robotic spacecraft Rosetta circles toward Comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko, a decision must eventually be made as to where its mechanical lander should attempt to touch-down. Reaching the comet earlier this month, Rosetta is sending back detailed pictures of the comet's unusual nucleus from which a smooth landing site will be selected. Pictured above, near the image top, the head of the comet's nucleus shows rugged grooves, while near the image bottom, the body shows a patch-work of areas sometimes separated by jagged hills. Some of the patch-work areas apparent on both the head and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Rosetta Approaches Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko

    08/11/2014 7:28:57 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | August 11, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What does it look like to approach a comet? Early this month humanity received a new rendition as the robotic Rosetta spacecraft went right up to -- and began orbiting -- the nucleus of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This approach turned out to be particularly fascinating because the comet nucleus first revealed itself to have an unexpected double structure, and later showed off an unusual and craggily surface. The above 101-frame time-lapse video details the approach of the spacecraft from August 1 through August 6. The icy comet's core is the size of a mountain and rotates every 12.7 hours. Rosetta's...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Rosetta's Rendezvous

    08/09/2014 2:32:21 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | August 07, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: On August 3rd, the Rosetta spacecraft's narrow angle camera captured this stunning image of the nucleus of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. After 10 years and 6.5 billion kilometers of travel along gravity assist trajectories looping through interplanetary space, Rosetta had approached to within 285 kilometers of its target. The curious double-lobed shape of the nucleus is revealed in amazing detail at an image resolution of 5.3 meters per pixel. About 4 kilometers across, the comet nucleus is presently just over 400 million kilometers from Earth, between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars. Now the first spacecraft to achieve a delicate orbit...
  • Stunning [sic] Images from Rosetta Show Closeup Views of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

    08/06/2014 2:53:27 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 25 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | August 6, 2014 | Nancy Atkinson on
    Rosetta has arrived! After traveling more than ten years, ESAs Rosetta spacecraft reached comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. These most recent images shared from the Rosetta team were obtained from a distance of 285 kilometers above 67Ps surface, and scientists say they surpass all pictures taken from earlier space missions of cometary surfaces. Visible are steep slopes and precipices, sharp-edged rock structure, prominent pits, and smooth, wide plains. Its incredible how full of variation this surface is, said Holger Sierks, the principal investigator of the OSIRIS imaging system on Rosetta. We have never seen anything like this before in such great detail. Today,...
  • Rosetta Spacecraft Waking Up for Final Leg of Comet Journey

    01/21/2014 11:35:27 AM PST · by 12th_Monkey · 36 replies
    Space.com ^ | January 20, 2014 | Charles Q. Choi
    Rosetta, the first spacecraft built to orbit a comet and land a probe on these icy nomads, is now waking up after more than two years of slumber, and videos filmed as part of an international competition will help greet the spacecraft after it awakens. Comets are some of the most primitive building blocks of the solar system, with many dating to soon after its formation. Comets also likely helped seed Earth with water and other ingredients of life. By analyzing the composition of the comet, the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft will help scientists learn more about the role...
  • Wake Up, Rosetta!

    01/18/2014 4:18:15 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 3 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | January 18, 2014 | Jason Major on
    Monday, January 20, at 10:00 GMT (which is 5:00 a.m. for U.S. East Coasters like me) the wake-up call will ring on ESAs Rosetta spacecraft, bringing it out of hibernation after over two and a half years in preparation of its upcoming and highly-anticipated rendezvous with a comet. The wake-up will incite the warming of Rosettas star trackers, which allow it to determine its orientation in space. Six hours later its thrusters will fire to stop its slow rotation and ensure that its solar arrays are receiving the right amount of sunlight. ... After nearly a decade of soaring through...
  • Sleeping Rosetta Spacecraft Wakes Up for Historic Comet Rendezvous and Landing

    01/20/2014 9:34:30 PM PST · by smokingfrog · 31 replies
    space.com ^ | 1-20-14 | Mike Wall
    A European probe awoke from a deep sleep Monday (Jan. 20) to gear up for an unprecedented comet rendezvous and landing this year that will cap a 10-year voyage across the solar system. After two and a half years in hibernation, the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft emerged from its slumber while cruising nearly 418 million miles (673 million kilometers) from the sun. The wakeup call, which was due to begin at 5 a.m. EST (1000 GMT), took hours as Rosetta switched on heaters to warm itself after its long night in the cold depths of space.
  • European spacecraft to pass Mars ('Rosetta' to rendezvouz with comet 67/Churyumov-Gerasimenko)

    02/24/2007 2:28:30 PM PST · by NormsRevenge · 9 replies · 390+ views
    AP on Yahoo ^ | 2/24/07 | David McHugh - ap
    DARMSTADT, Germany - A European spacecraft was on course to zip past Mars on Sunday, a crucial maneuver in its meandering, 10-year voyage through the solar system to make the first soft landing on a comet. The Rosetta craft is to pass within just 150 miles of the Martian surface, using the planet's gravity to change course and head for similar close encounters with Earth later this year and in 2009. The momentum gained from these flybys will sling the spacecraft toward its final rendezvous with the comet 67/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta must swing around Mars on exactly the right course, and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Rosetta's Target Comet

    05/23/2014 1:23:01 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | May 23, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Rosetta spacecraft captured this remarkable series of 9 frames between March 27 and May 4, as it closed from 5 million to 2 million kilometers of its target comet. Cruising along a 6.5 year orbit toward closest approach to the Sun next year, periodic comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is seen moving past a distant background of stars in Ophiuchus and globular star cluster M107. The comet's developing coma is actually visible by the end of the sequence, extending for some 1300 km into space. Rosetta is scheduled for an early August rendezvous with the comet's nucleus. Now clearly active, the...
  • How Big is Rosettas Comet?

    07/04/2014 4:47:19 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 27 replies
    Universe Today via Phys.org ^ | Thursday, July 03, 2014 | Jason Major
    ...while it's one thing to say that the nucleus of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is about three by five kilometers in diameter, it's quite another to see it in context with more familiar objects. Think about ita comet as tall as Mt Fuji! At the time of this writing Rosetta is 35 days out on approach to Comet 67P/C-G, at a distance of about 51,000 km (31,700 miles) and closing. Three "big burn" maneuvers have already been performed between May 7 and June 4 to adjust the spacecraft's course toward the incoming comet, and after smaller ones on June 18 and July...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Spacecraft Rosetta Shows Comet has Two Components

    07/21/2014 8:58:06 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | July 21, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why does this comet's nucleus have two components? The surprising discovery that Comet 67P/ChuryumovGerasimenko has a double nucleus came late last week as ESA's robotic interplanetary spacecraft Rosetta continued its approach toward the ancient comet's core. Speculative ideas on how the double core was created include, currently, that Comet ChuryumovGerasimenko is actually the result of the merger of two comets, that the comet is a loose pile of rubble pulled apart by tidal forces, that ice evaporation on the comet has been asymmetric, or that the comet has undergone some sort of explosive event. Pictured above, the comet's unusual...
  • Getting to Know Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

    08/03/2014 10:17:36 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 8 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | August 3, 2014 | Bob King
    For all the wonder that comets evoke, we on Earth never see directly what whips up the coma and tail. Even professional telescopes cant burrow through the dust and vapor cloaking the nucleus to distinguish the clear outline of a comets heart. The only way to see one is to fly a camera there. Rosetta took 10 years to reach 67P/C-G, a craggy, boot-shaped body that resembles an asteroid in appearance but with key differences. Asteroids shown in close up photos often display typical bowl-shaped impact craters. From the photos to date, 67P/C-Gs craters look shallow and flat in comparison...
  • Europe's Rosetta Spacecraft Makes Historic Arrival at Comet

    08/06/2014 9:37:08 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 80 replies
    www.space.com ^ | August 06, 2014 06:00am ET | By Miriam Kramer, Staff Writer
    After a decade in space and 4 billion miles, Europe's Rosetta spacecraft has made history: For the first time ever, a robotic probe from Earth is flying with a comet and will soon enter orbit. The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft arrived at its target, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, today (Aug. 6) to end a 10-year journey across the solar system. The spacecraft performed an engine burn that brought it about 62 miles (100 kilometers) from the comet's surface. Comet 67P/C-G and Rosetta are now flying about 251 million miles (450 million kilometers) from Earth. Engineers on the ground had to program...
  • Rosetta's crazy insertion maneuvers to get into orbit about comet 67P (animation)

    08/08/2014 11:46:03 AM PDT · by LibWhacker · 26 replies
  • Rosetta spacecraft sees possible 'double' comet

    07/17/2014 4:55:29 PM PDT · by cripplecreek · 23 replies
    Sciencenews.org ^ | July 17, 2014 | Ashley Yeager
    The comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko may actually be two objects stitched together. New images from ESA's Rosetta spacecraft show an odd constriction near the middle of the comet, suggesting that two clumps of matter may have merged in what scientists call a contact binary. The conclusions are preliminary, as Rosetta was still roughly 12,000 kilometers away from the comet when the images were taken. The comet could also have had a more regular single shape with parts carved out through impacts or ice melting as the object circled the sun, mission scientists say. They will have more details about the comet's...
  • Comet Jacques Is Back! Joins Venus and Mercury at Dawn

    07/12/2014 12:21:23 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 9 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | July 12, 2014 | Bob King on
    Comet C/2014 E2 Jacques has returned! Before it disappeared in the solar glow this spring, the comet reached magnitude +6, the naked eye limit. Now its back at dawn, rising higher each morning as it treks toward darker skies. Just days after its July 2 perihelion, the fuzzball will be in conjunction with the planet Venus tomorrow morning July 13. With Mercury nearby, you may have the chance to see this celestial Rat Pack tucked within a 8 circle.
  • Scientists Have Underestimated The Likelihood Of City-Killing Asteroids Hitting Earth

    04/28/2014 2:50:08 PM PDT · by blam · 48 replies
    BI - Reuters ^ | 4-28-2014 | Irene Klotz, Reuters
    Scientists Have Underestimated The Likelihood Of City-Killing Asteroids Hitting Earth Reuters Irene Klotz, Reuters Apr. 28, 2014, 2:59 PM The chance of a city-killing asteroid striking Earth is higher than scientists previously believed, a non-profit group building an asteroid-hunting telescope said on Tuesday. A global network that listens for nuclear weapons detonations detected 26 asteroids that exploded in Earth's atmosphere from 2000 to 2013, data collected by the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization shows. The explosions include the Feb. 15, 2013, impact over Chelyabinsk, Russia, which left more than 1,000 people injured by flying glass and debris. "There is...
  • NEOWISE Spots a Weirdo Comet

    04/10/2014 1:07:22 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 17 replies
    Universe Today ^ | February 28, 2014 | Jason Major
    NASAs NEOWISE mission formerly known as just WISE has identified the first comet of its new near-Earth object hunting career and, according to mission scientists, its a weirdo. To date several new asteroids have already been found by NEOWISE, and on February 14, 2014, it spotted its first comet. We are so pleased to have discovered this frozen visitor from the outermost reaches of our solar system, said Amy Mainzer, NEOWISE principal investigator at JPL. This comet is a weirdo it is in a retrograde orbit, meaning that it orbits the sun in the opposite sense from...
  • 'Cosmos' Recap: Halley's Comet History and 4 More Amazing Facts from Episode 3

    03/24/2014 9:36:36 PM PDT · by EveningStar · 12 replies
    Space.com ^ | March 24, 2014 | Miriam Kramer
    The newest episode of "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" dove into all things big and small including the history of modern science. Aired Sunday night (March 23), the third episode of the reboot of Carl Sagan's beloved TV show "Cosmos: A Personal Voyage" explains how knowledge of the workings of gravity, comets and the solar system changed the way that humans look at the stars and science.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Sungrazer

    10/27/2013 9:05:20 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | October 27, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Arcing toward a fiery fate, this Sungrazer comet was recorded by the SOHO spacecraft's Large Angle Spectrometric COronagraph(LASCO) on December 23, 1996. LASCO uses an occulting disk, partially visible at the lower right, to block out the otherwise overwhelming solar disk allowing it to image the inner 8 million kilometers of the relatively faint corona. The comet is seen as its coma enters the bright equatorial solar wind region (oriented vertically). Positioned in space to continuously observe the Sun, SOHO has now been used to discover over 1,500 comets, including numerous sungrazers. Based on their orbits, the vast majority...
  • Comet's water 'like that of Earth's oceans'

    10/05/2011 6:41:44 PM PDT · by decimon · 39 replies
    BBC ^ | October 5, 2011 | Jason Palmer
    Comet Hartley 2 contains water more like that found on Earth than prior comets seem to have, researchers say. A study using the Herschel space telescope aimed to measure the quantity of deuterium, a rare type of hydrogen, present in the comet's water. The comet had just half the amount of deuterium seen in comets. The result, published in Nature, hints at the idea that much of the Earth's water could have initially came from cometary impacts. Just a few million years after its formation, the early Earth was rocky and dry; something must have brought the water that covers...
  • Small Comets and Our Origins

    10/19/2004 11:13:25 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 80 replies · 1,857+ views
    University of Iowa ^ | circa 1999 | Louis A. Frank
    Given the reality of the dark spots, which soon became known as "atmospheric holes" because of their appearance in the images, there is only one explanation which has endured over all these years to present. That is, the holes are due to the shadowing of the atmospheric light by an object above the atmosphere. This object simply cannot be a stony or iron meteor because the holes are very large, tens of miles in diameter. A rock of this size would provide a disastrous impact on the Earth's surface. As it turns out, water vapor is very good at absorbing...
  • Did Comets Contain Key Ingredients For Life On Earth?

    06/06/2009 10:52:58 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 51 replies · 817+ views
    ScienceDaily ^ | April 29, 2009 | Adapted from materials provided by Tel Aviv University
    While investigating the chemical make-up of comets, Prof. Akiva Bar-Nun of the Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences at Tel Aviv University found they were the source of missing ingredients needed for life in Earth's ancient primordial soup. "When comets slammed into the Earth through the atmosphere about four billion years ago, they delivered a payload of organic materials to the young Earth, adding materials that combined with Earth's own large reservoir of organics and led to the emergence of life," says Prof. Bar-Nun.
  • Clandestine comets found in main asteroid belt - Earth oceans origin

    03/24/2006 2:26:05 AM PST · by S0122017 · 10 replies · 901+ views
    newscientist space ^ | 23 March 2006
    Clandestine comets found in main asteroid belt 19:00 23 March 2006 NewScientist.com news service Kimm Groshong You do not have to look to the outer edges of the solar system, or even out beyond Neptune to observe a reservoir of comets. A bevy of the ice-containing bodies lies disguised as main-belt asteroids between Mars and Jupiter, claim astronomers from the University of Hawaii, US. David Jewitt and Henry Hsieh have dubbed the new population "main belt comets". They describe three objects with near circular, flat orbits in the asteroid belt that stream volatile materials, producing an observable tail for weeks...
  • Kansas scientists probe mysterious possible comet strikes on Earth

    12/14/2009 5:27:46 AM PST · by decimon · 35 replies · 981+ views
    University of Kansas ^ | Dec 14, 2009 | Unknown
    An investigation by the University of Kansas' Adrian Melott and colleagues reveals a promising new method of detecting past comet strikes upon Earth and gauging their frequencyLAWRENCE, Kan. It's the stuff of a Hollywood disaster epic: A comet plunges from outer space into the Earth's atmosphere, splitting the sky with a devastating shock wave that flattens forests and shakes the countryside. But this isn't a disaster movie plotline. "Comet impacts might be much more frequent than we expect," said Adrian Melott, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Kansas. "There's a lot of interest in the rate...
  • We are all made of comet dust

    06/16/2013 12:50:32 AM PDT · by nickcarraway · 35 replies
    The National ^ | Jun 16, 2013
    Man owes a lot to chunks of rock and ice floating through space. From ancient jewellery to water and possibly even the beginnings of life itself, scientists are discovering that comets have contributed in many ways to the development of life on the planet, Robert Matthews writes Since their discovery in an Egyptian cemetery more than a century ago, a handful of metal beads have perplexed archaeologists. As jewellery, the beads seem decidedly downmarket, being made of nothing more glamorous than iron. Yet clearly their owner, dead for more than 5,000 years, held them in great esteem - as do...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comets Lemmon and PanSTARRS Peaking

    03/05/2013 4:41:44 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | March 05, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Two impressive comets will both reach their peak brightness during the next two weeks. Taking advantage of a rare imaging opportunity, both of these comets were captured in the sky together last week over the Atacama desert in South America. Comet C/2012 F6 (Lemmon), visible on the upper left of the above image, is sporting a long tail dominated by glowing green ions. Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS), visible near the horizon on the lower right, is showing a bright tail dominated by dust reflecting sunlight. The tails of both comets point approximately toward the recently set Sun. Comet Lemmon...
  • Newly Discovered Comet May Hit Mars: Watch for Two Others Near Earth

    03/04/2013 9:03:58 PM PST · by Jack Hydrazine · 29 replies
    Science World Report ^ | 4MAR2013 | Catherine Griffin
    This year seems to be one for comets. In addition to the two projectiles that will zoom near Earth, a third one has recently been discovered. The newest one, though, won't fly by our planet. Instead, it will pass uncomfortably close to Mars in 2014. Named C/2013 A1, the comet will fly near the Red Planet on Oct. 19, 2014 according to preliminary orbital prediction models. The icy missile is thought to have first originated from the Oort Cloud, which is a hypothetical region containing billions of cometary nuclei located around our solar system. Comets have struck planets in the...
  • Approaching comet may outshine the moon

    12/31/2012 3:58:25 AM PST · by Olog-hai · 34 replies
    Reuters ^ | Fri Dec 28, 2012 5:28pm EST | Irene Klotz
    A comet blazing toward Earth could outshine the full moon when it passes by at the end of next yearif it survives its close encounter with the sun. The recently discovered object, known as comet ISON, is due to fly within 1.2 million miles (1.9 million km) from the center of the sun on Nov. 28, 2013 said astronomer Donald Yeomans, head of NASAs Near Earth Object Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. As the comet approaches, heat from the sun will vaporize ices in its body, creating what could be a spectacular tail that is visible...
  • Newfound Comet Could Look Spectacular in 2013 ( Comet ISON )

    12/27/2012 6:32:20 AM PST · by Las Vegas Dave · 16 replies
    space.com ^ | 25 September 2012 | Joe Rao
    A newly discovered comet has the potential to put on a dazzling celestial display late next year, when it will be so bright you may be able to see it briefly in the daytime sky. The discovery of the object named Comet ISON was announced Monday (Sept. 24) by Russians Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok, who detected it in photographs taken three days earlier using a 15.7-inch (0.4-meter) reflecting telescope of the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON), near Kislovodsk. The new comet is officially known as C/2012 S1. When first sighted, Comet ISON was 625 million miles (1 billion kilometers)...
  • New Comet DiscoveredMay Become "One of Brightest in History" (outshine the moon)

    09/28/2012 1:20:52 PM PDT · by NYer · 24 replies
    National Geographic ^ | September 27, 2012 | Andrew Fazekas
    Sky-watchers in Australia ogle comet Lovejoy late last year. If astronomers' early predictions hold true, the holidays next year may hold a glowing gift for stargazersa superbright comet, just discovered streaking near Saturn.Even with powerful telescopes, comet 2012 S1 (ISON) is now just a faint glow in the constellation Cancer. But the ball of ice and rocks might become visible to the naked eye for a few months in late 2013 and early 2014perhaps outshining the moon, astronomers say.The comet is already remarkably bright, given how far it is from the sun, astronomer Raminder Singh Samra said. What's more, 2012...
  • Newly spotted comet may outshine the full moon

    09/26/2012 6:29:10 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 89 replies
    New Scientist ^ | Tuesday, September 25, 2012 | Jeff Hecht
    Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok, of the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON) in Russia, discovered comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) on 21 September via images taken with a 40-centimetre reflecting telescope. Other sky-watchers soon spotted it, and the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, announced the find yesterday. From the combined observations, astronomers were able to trace the comet's recent path and find images of it dating back to late December 2011. From there they calculated a near-parabolic orbit that has comet ISON headed almost straight towards the sun. Astronomers at the Remanzacco Observatory in Italy think that...
  • Comet May Have Collided With Earth 13,000 Years Ago(MEXICO)

    07/15/2012 5:03:34 PM PDT · by ForGod'sSake · 49 replies
    Spacedotcom ^ | March 6, 2012 | Clara Moskowitz
    Central Mexicos Lake Cuitzeo contains melted rock formations and nanodiamonds that suggest a comet impacted Earth around 12,900 years ago, scientists say. CREDIT: Israde et al. (2012) New evidence supports the idea that a huge space rock collided with our planet about 13,000 years ago and broke up in Earth's atmosphere, a new study suggests. This impact would have been powerful enough to melt the ground, and could have killed off many large mammals and humans. It may even have set off a period of unusual cold called the Younger Dryas that began at that time, researchers say. The...
  • Many Solar System Comets May Be Sun's Stolen Goods

    03/17/2012 11:10:14 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 17 replies
    Space dot com ^ | February 28, 2012 | Clara Moskowitz
    At least 5 percent of the comets orbiting our sun may have been stolen from other stars, scientists say. Our solar system is thought to include trillions of comets -- small chunks of rock and ice -- that circle the sun in a spherical swarm called the Oort cloud, a region that extendsabout 100,000 times the distance from the Earth to the sun in any direction. The average distance between the Earth and sun is 93 million miles (150 million kilometers). Now scientists suggest that many of these bodies may actually have originated around other stars and were snatched up...
  • Comet Lovejoy survives a brush with Sol ( Videos )

    12/16/2011 10:14:54 PM PST · by Ernest_at_the_Beach · 15 replies
    Watts Up With That? ^ | December 16, 2011 | Anthony Watts
    From Physorg.com Comet Lovejoy was only discovered a couple of weeks ago. It was supposed to melt as it came so close to the sun that the temperatures would hit several million degrees.But astronomers watching live with NASA telescopes were shocked when a bright spot emerged on the suns other side. Lovejoy lived.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Leonid Fireball over Tenerife

    11/23/2011 4:43:39 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | November 22, 2011 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Historically active, this year's Leonid meteor shower was diminished by bright moonlight. Still, faithful night sky watchers did see the shower peak on November 18 and even the glare of moonlight didn't come close to masking this brilliant fireball meteor. The colorful meteor trail and final flare was captured early that morning in western skies over the Canary Island Observatorio del Teide on Tenerife. Particles of dust swept up when planet Earth passes near the orbit of periodic comet Tempel-Tuttle, Leonid meteors typically enter the atmosphere at nearly 70 kilometers per second. Looking away from the Moon, the wide...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet and CME on the Sun

    10/05/2011 3:24:00 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | October 05, 2011 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Did a sun-diving comet just cause a solar explosion? Probably not. This past weekend a comet dove toward the Sun and was followed very quickly by a Coronal Mass Ejection (CMEs) from the other side of the Sun. The first two sequences in the above video shows the spectacular unfolding of events as seen by the Sun-orbiting SOHO satellite, while the same events were also captured by both Sun-orbiting STEREO satellites. Now sungrazer comets that break up as they pass near the Sun are not all that rare -- hundreds have been cataloged over the past few years. CMEs...
  • Comet Theory Comes Crashing to Earth

    05/23/2011 5:43:19 PM PDT · by Renfield · 33 replies · 1+ views
    Miller-McCune ^ | 5-14-2011 | Rex Dalton
    It seemed like such an elegant answer to an age-old mystery: the disappearance of what are arguably North Americas first people. A speeding comet nearly 13,000 years ago was the culprit, the theory goes, spraying ice and rocks across the continent, killing the Clovis people and the mammoths they fed on, and plunging the region into a deep chill. The idea so captivated the public that three movies describing the catastrophe were produced. But now, four years after the purportedly supportive evidence was reported, a host of scientific authorities systematically have made the case that the comet theory is bogus....
  • The Origin of Sunspots -- A New Hypothesis

    05/17/2011 2:33:40 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    American Geophysical Union ^ | December 2003 | J. Ackerman
    Recent observations of sunspots, the high temperature of the corona and CMEs strongly suggest that they are all caused by highly energetic solid bodies falling into the Sun. This hypothesis is consistent with the rapid (3000 mph) downward flow of gases in sunspot interiors observed by SOHO, their lower temperatures, and the presence of large quantities of water in their spectra. The high velocity of the incoming body entrains the surface gases, carrying them rapidly downward. The vaporization of the bodies cools the local gases and the water released from the bodies produces the observed spectra. Solar flares and CMEs...
  • Brian Marsden dies at 73; astronomer who tracked comets and asteroids

    11/20/2010 7:53:58 PM PST · by LibWhacker · 9 replies
    LATimes ^ | 11/20/10 | Thomas H. Maugh
    Astronomer Brian G. Marsden, a comet and asteroid tracker who stood sentinel to protect the Earth from collisions with interplanetary rocks and other remnants of the solar system's creation, died Thursday of cancer at Lahey Clinic Medical Center in Burlington, Mass. He was 73. Director emeritus of the Minor Planet Center at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., Marsden was perhaps best known for his 1998 announcement that an asteroid known as 1997 XF11 might strike the Earth in 2028, causing untold damage. The announcement sparked additional studies which quickly showed that such an impact was unlikely. Marsden,...
  • Humans to Asteroids: Watch Out! (Russell Schweickart, former astronaut)

    10/27/2010 3:28:53 PM PDT · by neverdem · 14 replies
    NY Times ^ | October 25, 2010 | Russell Schweickart
    A FEW weeks ago, an asteroid almost 30 feet across and zipping along at 38,000 miles per hour flew 28,000 miles above Singapore. Why, you might reasonably ask, should non-astronomy buffs care about a near miss from such a tiny rock? Well, I can give you one very good reason: asteroids dont always miss. If even a relatively little object was to strike a city, millions of people could be wiped out. Thanks to telescopes that can see ever smaller objects at ever greater distances, we can now predict dangerous asteroid impacts decades ahead of time. We can even use...