Comet-kazi: Sun-observing spacecraft spots a comet's demise
March 26, 2010
The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), launched in 1995 by NASA and the European Space Agency to study the sun and its environs, has delivered an auxiliary benefit—discovering more comets than any other mission in history. Most of the more than 1,500 comets
SOHO has spotted are sun-grazing fragments of larger bodies, which themselves may have split off a common progenitor relatively recently, less than 2,000 years ago. That progenitor would have had an orbit that brought it from the outer solar system and past the sun only every several hundred years.
On March 12,