comet

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Why Astronomers Named This Comet After a Cat

C/2014 S3, now a 'Manx comet,' has no tail

(Newser) - The discovery was so unusual that at first astronomers didn't know what to call it. A comet bearing the official name C/2014 S3 also bore no tail—which isn't just unusual, but the first ever to be observed by humans, reports Reuters . Moreover, it was dark and rocky,... More »

Finally, an Explanation for Mercury's Dark Surface

Comets didn't carry in the carbon, but rather disrupted what was already there

(Newser) - Mercury's mysterious surface darkness has baffled scientists: Though it's far closer to the sun than our moon, the latter reflects more sunlight. Last year, it was proposed that the root cause is carbon. As Patrick Peplowski of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory tells the Christian Science ... More »

Why This Year's Taurids May Be Better Than Ever

Taurid's fireballs will be extra-enhanced by lack of full moon, dense debris field

(Newser) - Every year the Earth passes through the debris left behind by Comet Encke, and it's that time of year again, which means just one thing: Get ready for the fireballs. That's what you could see in the night sky over the next week or so as the Taurid... More »

Comet Is Spewing Out Vast Amounts of Booze

Study suggests building blocks of life arrived on drunk comet

(Newser) - Never mind water on Mars , they've found booze in a comet. Astronomers say they have detected ethyl alcohol among 21 kinds of organic molecules in gas from Comet Lovejoy, meaning the comet has the ingredients both to create life and to get it incredibly drunk. This is the first... More »

Coming in Jan.: Comet Visible to Naked Eye

Best viewing time for the comet will be mid-January

(Newser) - Comets are basically like cats, a senior researcher at Johns Hopkins University tells the Christian Science Monitor : "They're very interesting, and they do what they want." That may explain that even though scientists didn't think Comet C/2014 Q2 (also known as Comet Lovejoy) would prove to... More »

Lander 'Sniffed' Organic Molecules on Comet

But an attempt to get a soil sample may have failed

(Newser) - Before its battery petered out , the small spacecraft that landed on a moving comet managed to detect organic molecules on the comet, reports NBC News . An instrument aboard the Philae lander essentially sniffed the atmosphere and found evidence of the molecules, which, as the Wall Street Journal explains, are the... More »

Comet Lander's Batteries Die

But it manages to send data to scientists

(Newser) - In a development that's no huge surprise , the comet lander Philae is entering what the European Space Agency calls "idle mode." When the lander missed its intended spot on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko—and its harpoons didn't manage to lock into the comet successfully—it couldn't get... More »

Success: ESA Lands Philae on Comet

Lots of relief at ESA headquarters as spacecraft touches down

(Newser) - The European Space Agency's unmanned Rosetta probe successfully landed on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko today, capping its final seven-hour journey with a historic rendezvous with the fast-moving lump of dust and ice. Philae's audacious landing attempt is the climax of a decade-long mission to study the 2.... More »

Scientists Brace for Comet Landing's '7 Hours of Terror'

Philae to depart tomorrow morning

(Newser) - Tomorrow's a big day at the European Space Agency: Officials are getting ready to land a probe on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko , Space.com reports. The Philae robot will have to navigate a "very, very rough" surface, and officials won't know whether things have worked out until after what... More »

'1 in 1M Years' Comet to Fly by Mars on Sunday

Rovers, orbiters to capture spectacular event

(Newser) - Astronomers are so excited about a cosmic event happening this Sunday that some of them would probably jump at the chance of getting a one-way ticket to Mars . A comet knocked out of the Oort cloud at the edge of the solar system millions of years ago is set to... More »

Space Probe Chasing 'Rubber Duck' Comet

Rosetta probe closing in on rare double comet

(Newser) - Space may have found itself a mascot: a double comet some say looks an awful lot like a giant rubber duck. The European Space Agency's Rosetta probe has been gaining on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko since reawakening this year , hoping to send a lander to its surface. Now that it's... More »

Never-Before-Seen Meteor Shower Arrives Tonight

Best viewing is 2am to 4am ET Saturday

(Newser) - If it's clear your way late tonight and early tomorrow morning, you might just glimpse something never before seen from Earth: the Camelopardalid meteor shower . As the AP explains, the planet will tonight encounter debris from the Comet 209P/LINEAR, which was discovered just a decade ago; the dusty debris... More »

'Brand New' Meteor Shower Born in 200-Year-Old Comet

Camelopardalid could rival Perseids—or be totally lame

(Newser) - About 200 years ago, a comet known as 209P/LINEAR passed through our cosmic neighborhood, leaving a trail of detritus in its wake. Next week, our humble planet will plow through that debris field, and the resulting meteor shower has NASA more than a little excited—as well as not quite... More »

How Dark Matter Could End Life on Earth

By hurling comets at our planet: Harvard study

(Newser) - Dark matter seems to hold galaxies snugly together across the universe—but it could also hurl comets at Earth and threaten our entire species, according to a new study . This is based on a theory that there's a huge disk of dark matter lying on the central plane of... More »

Slumbering Comet-Chaser Awakens

Rosetta ready for 1st mission to land on a comet

(Newser) - After snoozing since 2011, the comet-chasing Rosetta probe awoke today, sending the message "Hello World!" to the European Space Agency just after 1pm EST, according to the AP . The European probe, launched a decade ago, has been in a long hibernation to save power. Now, it's ready... More »

There's Hope for 'Comet of the Century'

ISON may have survived trip around sun after all

(Newser) - A comet that gained an earthly following because of its bright tail visible from space was initially declared dead after essentially grazing the sun. Now, there is a silver of hope that Comet ISON may have survived. New images, basically faint smudges on a screen, being analyzed today showed a... More »

'Comet of the Century' Likely Didn't Survive Sun Encounter

Scientists think ISON broke up into pieces

(Newser) - Scientists say it appears a comet from the fringes of the solar system didn't survive its close encounter with the sizzling sun. Images from NASA spacecraft showed Comet ISON approaching for its slingshot around the sun today, but nothing coming out on the other side. In a Google+ hangout,... More »

'Holiday Comet' Could Put on Dazzling Show

... or the sun could utterly destroy it on Thanksgiving

(Newser) - Stargazers might be in for a holiday treat: The comet ISON's million-year journey toward the sun will reach its climax on Thanksgiving, when it will either slingshot around the sun or be destroyed by solar radiation. If ISON survives, astronomers believe it could provide a spectacular show during December,... More »

NASA 'Dumbfounded' by 6-Tailed Comet

(OK, technically it's a 'comet-like' asteroid)

(Newser) - The Hubble telescope has spotted a spectacular, perplexing object in the middle of the Asteroid Belt: a rock with six "comet-like" dust tails streaming behind it. "We were literally dumbfounded when we saw it," David Jewitt, the head of the astronomy team studying the P/2013 P5, said... More »

Comet, Not Asteroid, Wiped Out Dinosaurs

Scientists tweak theory on what slammed into Earth

(Newser) - Scientists still think a space rock slammed into Earth 65 million years ago in a catastrophic collision that wiped out the dinosaurs and most other species. But a new theory presented this week suggests that the space rock was a speedy comet, not a hulking asteroid as previously believed, reports... More »

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