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Trying to orbit a comet as it rockets through space is no easy task — but that’s just what the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft is poised to do. Here’s how.
Comet ISON is inching ever closer to thes sun, and it will get incredibly close later on today. In the meantime, you can watch its most recent progress in this video from NASA.
The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), launched in 1995, stares mostly at…you guessed it: the Sun. But when its instruments are trying to image other things near the Sun, all that light gets kind of overwhelming. So sometimes instruments on the SOHO just block the Sun out and turn their attention to other things. Like this sungrazer comet.
Look there were a lot of options. NASA streamed the shower with commentary, local astronomer associations were posting pictures, and there’s always…what’s that place? Oh right. Outside. You could have gone and watched. But no. It was a Sunday night and you were busy.
About 4.1 billion years ago, our solar system was a huge cluster of comets bombarding every planet orbiting the Sun and crashing into each other. That period of chaos is known as the Late Heavy Bombardment, and astronomers believe it was key to the formation of life in our planet.
When the Commander of the International Space Station says he just saw “the most amazing thing I have ever seen in space,” you know you’re in for something incredible. We’ve never seen a view of a comet like this.