News / Science & Technology

NASA Captures First Images of ISON Comet

This is the orbital trajectory of comet C/2012 S1 (ISON). The comet is currently located just inside the orbit of Jupiter. In November 2013, ISON will pass less than 1.1 million miles (1.8 million kilometers) from the sun’s surface.
This is the orbital trajectory of comet C/2012 S1 (ISON). The comet is currently located just inside the orbit of Jupiter. In November 2013, ISON will pass less than 1.1 million miles (1.8 million kilometers) from the sun’s surface.
VOA News
NASA has captured the first images of a distant comet, which may give us a spectacular light show later this fall.

The images of comet C/2012 S1 (ISON), were taken by NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft from January 17 and 18 when the comet was 493 million miles away, according to a NASA release.

"This is the fourth comet on which we have performed science observations and the farthest point from Earth from which we've tried to transmit data on a comet," said Tim Larson, project manager for the Deep Impact spacecraft at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "The distance limits our bandwidth, so it's a little like communicating through a modem after being used to DSL. But we're going to coordinate our science collection and playback so we maximize our return on this potentially spectacular comet."

As comets approach, the sun’s energy warms them, releasing gas and dust which form a comet’s luminous tail. While ISON is still distant, NASA says it is already active, with a tail extending more than 40,000 miles form the comet’s nucleus. ISON is expected to come as close as 40 million miles to Earth on December 26 of this year.

ISON is known as a long-period comet. These can have orbits lasting hundred, thousands or even millions of years. NASA believes this is ISON’s first orbit, which means it is likely “laden with volatile material just spoiling for some of the sun's energy to heat it up and help it escape.” That could mean quite a show, but NASA cautions the comet could break up as well.

Would-be comets are thought to dwell in the solar system’s Oort cloud, something NASA calls a “giant spherical cloud of icy bodies surrounding our solar system so far away its outer edge.” When these bodies are disturbed by the gravitational effects of passing or nearby stars, they can be “nudged” from the cloud and begin their long orbits around the Sun.

ISON was discovered on Sept. 21, 2012, by two Russian astronomers using the International Scientific Optical Network's 16-inch (40-centimeter) telescope near Kislovodsk.

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Gary from: Davenport, Iowa
February 14, 2013 10:55 AM
Where was November 28th even mentioned. Please don't mistake an awesome celestial event with any bygone religous fundamental. It's insulting, if not cringe inducing.


by: Sean from: Pendle UK
February 12, 2013 5:07 PM
That observation about Chanukah being on the 28th of November got my attention........its my Birthday.
I am SO starting to get fascinated about this heavenly event too. I want to know as much as I can about it.


by: bruce from: USA Concord, DE
February 08, 2013 12:25 AM
It just so happens Nov 28th is the first day of Chanukah! God Himself will see to it that He lights this candle!


by: Steve from: US
February 07, 2013 12:30 PM
I had alot of people make fun of my original 2012 Comet website over the last 5 years. It turns out that I made a mistake because the Bible Codes always stated "Comet" before "2012". Of course (ISON's) real name is Comet 2012/S1 because it was found in the year 2012 and the first one found in September. So is there something to the Bible Codes predictions regarding this comet after all? I read in another article that the tail has been calculated to be 40,000 miles long!! But, it seems that NASA or no one else mentions the actual nuclei size?? Why Not?? That's a big tail and when the ice starts melting inside the nuclei the C02 gases could change the direction of this big mother. Will it turn toward earth? Read more: http://comet2012.com/comet-ison/

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid