Sun  Planets and Moons  ID: 11158

Sun Grazing Comets as Solar Probes

To observe how winds move high in Earth's atmosphere, scientists sometimes release clouds of barium as tracers to track how the material corkscrews and sweeps around — but scientists have no similar technique to study the turbulent atmosphere of the sun. So researchers were excited in December 2011, when Comet Lovejoy swept right through the sun's corona with its long tail streaming behind it. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured images of the comet, showing how its long tail was buffeted by systems around the sun, offering scientists a unique way of observing movement as if they'd orchestrated the experiment themselves. Since comet tails have ionized gases, they are also affected by the sun's magnetic field, and can act as tracers of the complex magnetic system higher up in the atmosphere. Comets can also aid in the study of coronal mass ejections and the solar wind.

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Scott Wiessinger (USRA): Animator
Walt Feimer (HTSI): Animator
Tom Bridgman (GST): Animator
Chris Smith (HTSI): Animator
Scott Wiessinger (USRA): Video Editor
Scott Wiessinger (USRA): Narrator
Scott Wiessinger (USRA): Producer
William D. Pesnell (NASA/GSFC): Scientist
Scott Wiessinger (USRA): Writer
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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

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This item is part of these series:
Narrated Movies
SDO - Edited Features

Goddard TV Tape:
G2012-123 -- Sun Grazers

SVS >> Comet
SVS >> Solar Wind
SVS >> Sun
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Sun-earth Interactions >> Solar Activity >> Solar Flares
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Sun-earth Interactions >> Solar Activity >> Solar Ultraviolet
SVS >> Comet Encke
SVS >> Solar Dynamics Observatory
SVS >> Heliophysics
DLESE >> Narrated
SVS >> Corona
NASA Science >> Sun
NASA Science >> Planets and Moons
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Sun-earth Interactions >> Solar Activity >> Coronal Mass Ejections

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version