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

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora