Home Science NASA news: Space agency celebrates as solar observatory discovers 4,000th comet

NASA news: Space agency celebrates as solar observatory discovers 4,000th comet

NASA news: Space agency celebrates as solar observatory discovers 4,000th comet 1

Karl Battams, a space scientist at the US Naval Research Lab in Washington, DC, who manages SOHO’s comet-finding program, said: “Not only has SOHO rewritten the history books in terms of solar physics, but, unexpectedly, it’s rewritten the books in terms of comets as well.”

The vast majority of comets found in SOHO’s data are from its coronagraph instrument, called Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph (LASCO).

Like other coronagraphs, LASCO uses a solid object — in this case, a metal disk — to block out the Sun’s bright face, allowing its cameras to focus on the relatively-faint corona.

This outer atmosphere is critical to understanding how the Sun’s changes propagate out into the solar system, making LASCO a crucial part of the US-based space agency quest to understand the Sun and its influence.

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