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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

11/27/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Heavenly body will make its closest approach to the sun on holiday

As countless turkeys feel the flames this coming Thanksgiving, the comet ISON will make its closest approach to the sun, skimming 730,000 miles above the surface. While a mere fragment from when the solar system was created, NASA hopes to satisfy the curious.

ISON is smaller than a typical comet at about three-quarters of a mile across.

ISON is smaller than a typical comet at about three-quarters of a mile across.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/27/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: Coemt ISON, NASA, sun, science, ice. space


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The comet may not be be visible to the naked eye until December, but never fear. "There's great interest in comet ISON," Don Yeomans, a senior research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory says. "First, it's coming from the very edge of our solar system so it stills retains the primordial ices from which it formed four-and-a-half billion years ago.

"It's been traveling from the outer edge of the solar system for about five-and-a-half million years to reach us in the inner solar system, and it's going to make an extremely close approach to the sun. Hence it could become very bright and possibly a very easy naked-eye object in early December," he added.

NASA will photograph ISON's approach to the sun. The results will then be made public on Thanksgiving through its Web site. 

The Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft will grab images from three different positions as ISON moves through its perihelion, which is the point in its orbit that's closest to the sun.

The Web site will show near real-time images along with video of ISON's journey - and possible demise. The photos should appear sometime between 12:45 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. ET, NASA reported on the Web site. Images of ISON will also be posted tomorrow at the Web site of the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory.

In the meantime, NASA's Stereo Science Center will use volunteer ground stations to capture real-time, lower-resolution images.

Scientists hope to learn clues as to the ancient formation of the solar system and its planets through their study of the comet. "The reason we study Comet ISON to begin with is because it's a relic," Carey Lisse, a senior research scientist with Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory says.

"It's a dinosaur bone of solar system formation. You need comets in order to build the planets. This comet has been in a deep freeze half way to the next star for the last four and a half billion years. It's just been coming in over the last few millions years and possibly even started around the dawn of man," he added.

ISON is smaller than a typical comet at about three-quarters of a mile across. Lisse said there's a 70 percent chance it won't survive traveling so close to the sun's blazing hot surface.

some NASA scientists believe that the comet already is breaking apart. Lisse says that while some pieces may have been cast off, the comet is likely still holding together.

You can watch these startling images on Thanksgiving by going here ..

A birth foretold: click here to learn more!

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