Merrillville Community Planetarium
Bringing the Universe to the Merrillville Schools and Northwest Indiana

Comets

Comet or Asteroid?

NASA’s NEOWISE mission has discovered two objects in Earth’s area of the solar system. NEOWISE is the asteroid-comet hunting portion of the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission.

Rosetta

European Space Agency (ESA) launched the Rosetta spacecraft on March 4, 2004 on a 12-year mission to study Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta also carries a probe Philae to land on the comet.

Centaurs Mostly Comets

NASA’s WISE (Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer) has been studying the small celestial bodies orbiting the sun between Jupiter and Neptune. Their true identity has been a mystery.

Ocean Water from Comets?

ESA’s (European Space Agency) Herschel Infrared Space Observatory has been studying comet Hartley 2.

Comet Hartley in Monoceros

Comet 103P/Hartley can still be seen through November passing through familiar constellations. It should be bright enough to see using binoculars. The gas tail should become visible too.

Origins of Life in Comets

NASA’s Stardust spacecraft collected samples of Comet Wild 2 and returned them to Earth.

Omet 8P/Tuttle in Cassiopeia

Comet 8P/Tuttle can be seen passing through the northern sky from the area around Polaris at the beginning of the month into Cassiopeia, Andromeda, and Triangulum by the end of the month.

Comet in Coma Berenices

Comet C/2007 F1 was discovered on March 19th. The name LONEOS is an acronym for the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search, a project that searches for asteroids and comets.

Comet Nearing Earth

Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 will be passing closer to Earth than any other comet in more than twenty years. Scientists will be able to watch a comet as it goes through its last stage of its existence-its break-up.

Deep Impact to Study Comet

NASA launched the spacecraft Deep Impact on Wednesday, January 12, 2005 on a mission to Comet Tempel 1. The 820-pound spacecraft will travel 268 million miles, more than 80 million miles from Earth and just beyond the orbit of Mars, to crash into the 9-mile wide comet at a speed of 23,000 miles per hour. The impact will be equivalent to 4.5 tons of TNT exploding. The debris from the comet poses no threat to Earth, neither will the slight change in the comet’s orbital path.
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