Deep Impact Spots Comet ISON

ISON will look something like Hale Bopp on its 1997 pass as it approaches the Sun (Credits: Dennis di Cicco/CORBIS).

ISON will look something like Hale Bopp on its 1997 pass as it approaches the Sun (Credits: Dennis di Cicco/CORBIS).

Comet C/2012 S1, less formally known as ISON, is a long-period comet from the Oort cloud, thought to be making its first pass of the inner solar system. In late December of 2013, ISON will approach the Sun, creating a vibrant tail as its volatile components vaporize in the Sun’s heat. Aside from creating a spectacular view – possibly brighter than the Moon – the release of dust and volatiles that date back to the formation of the solar system promises a cosmetological treat for scientists.

NASA’s Deep Impact probe captured images of ISON on January 17 and 18. Although still 793 km from the Sun, ISON had already sprouted a 64,400 km tail of volatiles. Check out Deep Impact’s view in the video below:

 

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Merryl Azriel

Merryl Azriel

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Having wandered into professional writing and editing after a decade in engineering, science, and management, Merryl now enjoys reintegrating the dichotomy by bringing space technology and policy within reach of an interested public. After three years as Space Safety Magazine’s Managing Editor, Merryl semi-retired to Visiting Contributor and manager of the campaign to bring the International Space Station collaboration to the attention of the Nobel Peace Prize committee. She keeps her pencil sharp as Proposal Manager for U.S. government contractor CSRA.

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