U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s Large Angle Spectrometric Coronagraph Discovers 4000th Comet

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SOHO 4000

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The 4,000th comet found by ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA’s SOHO observatory is seen here in an image from the spacecraft together with SOHO’s 3,999th comet discovery. The 2 comets are fairly close at around 1 million miles apart, recommending that they might have been linked together as just recently as a couple of years earlier. Credit: ESA/NASA/SOHO/Karl Battams

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s Large Angle Spectrometric Coronagraph (LASCO) instrument determined the 4000th comet found by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), a joint objective in between the European Space Agency and NASA on June 15.

LASCO, which is aboard SOHO, was established in 1995 to see the very faint emission from the area around the Sun called the corona. Operating in area for almost 25 years, the telescope has actually seen far more area action than scientists initially prepared for — finding well over half of all understood comets.

“In less than 25 years SOHO has added this huge volume to the archives of our comet knowledge, and it comes from a telescope not designed to see comets,” stated Karl Battams, NRL computational researcher. “This is exciting for many reasons, but perhaps mostly because LASCO is discovering comets that are otherwise completely unobservable from Earth due to their proximity to the Sun.”


ESA and NASA’s SOHO has actually found 4,000 comets in almost 25 years. Karl Battams, who leads the objective’s comet-finding program, discuss 4 of his preferred comets very first found by the Sun-seeing observatory. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

The bulk of the comet discoveries were made by amateur astronomers who took part in the NASA-funded and NRL-managed Sungrazer task, which motivates person researchers to browse images from SOHO and the Sun-Earth Connection Coronal and Heliospheric Investigation (SECCHI) instrument suite on the NASA Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) and look for formerly unidentified comets. New comet findings are reported through the site, and consequently validated and determined by Battams, who has actually led this Project because 2003.

“The people who discovered these comets were not necessarily professional astronomers, they were people at home,” Battams stated. “People of all ages, backgrounds, and countries have volunteered their time to be a part of this citizen science project. The 4000th comet is a testament to the invaluable input from so many volunteers all around the world over the past two decades.”

The Navy has a unique interest in the Sun and near -Sun environment. Much of the Navy’s devices, and devices we utilize every day, such as GPS, is affected by the Sun. Studying comets taking a trip near the Sun assists scientists get a higher understanding of Earth’s closest star, as they observe the comets responding to its severe environment.

Battams is a computational researcher and astrophysicist within the Solar and Heliospheric Physics Branch under the Space Sciences department at NRL. The objective of this Branch is to establish better heliospace environment understanding, awareness, sensing units, projection abilities, and tracking tools that anticipate functional effects and allow real-time danger caution; and shift these advancements to support the Navy/Marine Corps and other firms.

Read The 4,000th Comet Discovery Using Solar and Heliospheric Observatory for more on this discovery.