Comets - history and exploration


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A brief history of comets and our exploration of them. Includes information from NASA, ESA, and the Observatories from the University of Michigan.

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  • Yakut legend in ancient Mongolia called comets "the daughter of the devil," and warned of destruction, storm and frost, whenever she approaches the earth.
  • of cometary forms, illustrations from Johannes Hevelius' Cometographia (Danzig, 1668)
  • Live The King - Scene 1Halley’s comet is top, center, the day Edward’s funeral and Harold’s corronation. The ships at bottom portend the coming Norman invasion.Supposedly, William the conqueror saw the comet and took it as a sign that it was time to invade England.
  • Would return in 1758
  • Messier’s list of 110 fuzzy objects that weren’t comets (also found 44 comets, about 20 of which were true discoveries)
  • This image is from Harvard, but many observations were made at the Detroit Observatory
  • Captured using the single prism spectrograph on the 34-1/2” at the Detroit Observatory.
  • of Halley’s comet:1014 kgMass of Earth’s atmosphere: 5x1018 kgThe amount of air on Earth is 50,000 times greater than the entire mass of Halley’s comet!
  • Goodrich & Ward, “The Formation of Planetesimals” 1973
  •, dark, lots of organics, lots of water, localized jets
  • journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science; August 2009, Jamie Elsila amino acid used to build proteins
  • Comets can bring disaster
  • But most bring beauty
  • And we wouldn’t be here without them
  • Comets - history and exploration

    1. 1. Comets History and Exploration
    2. 2. Imagine… You are living on the plains 5000 years ago Each evening as it gets dark, you go out and watch the sky…
    3. 3. The Sun Sets… And the same stars appear…
    4. 4. Night after night…
    5. 5. They shift just a little
    6. 6. A wanderer appears…
    7. 7. The Moon…
    8. 8. Year after year…
    9. 9. Every year, the same stars mean Spring…
    10. 10. … the river will flood…
    11. 11. …get the harvest in before the locusts come
    12. 12. The skies are a guide…
    13. 13. A calendar,
    14. 14. Until something new appears
    15. 15. Something out of place
    16. 16. What could it Mean??
    17. 17. Disaster!
    18. 18. “destruction, storm and frost”
    19. 19. War
    20. 20. Bayeux Tapestry Long Live The King - Scene 1
    21. 21. A disaster for every comet… a/f_ancient.html
    22. 22. But then… Edmund Halley convinced Issac Newton to work out the orbits of several comets, and realized the comets of 1531, 1607 and 1682 were actually the same comet!
    23. 23. Comets are solar system objects! Predictable, and understandable! Exciting, and NOT a disaster! Punch, 1909
    24. 24. Comet hunting in the 18th century
    25. 25. Comet observing in the Donati’s comet, 1858 “Most beautiful comet” th 19 Century
    26. 26. Detailed orbital elements
    27. 27. Comet Anatomy Parts visible only when close to the Sun.
    28. 28. Ions Atoms & molecules missing electrons Often emit light -> Spectroscopy!
    29. 29. th 20 century observations Comet 1913 f, Delavan Publications of the Astronomical Observatory of the University of Michigan ; v. 3, Ann Arbor : The University, 1923
    30. 30. Disaster! Cyanogen gas found in Halley’s comet Earth would pass through the comet’s tail!!
    31. 31. Questions only comets could answer How do planets / the solar system form? What materials were available to build planets? Where did Earth’s water come from?
    32. 32. ICE International Sun-Earth Explorer was designed to study the Sun-earth environment, but had the chance to fly through GiacobiniZinner’s tail! Pelted by dust grains Confirmed spectroscopic measurements
    33. 33. Giotto April 1986
    34. 34. Stardust Flew through coma of Wild 2 Returned a sample
    35. 35. Stardust Returned a sample
    36. 36. Life from comets? Comets may have brought the water, carbon, nitrogen, and organic molecules in to the inner solar system! Stardust samples included glycerin! Matthew Genge / Imperial College London
    37. 37. Deep Impact Impacted Temple 1 Comet was softer than expected!
    38. 38. “sungrazer” ISON Most observed comet ever In addition to ground based observers, including amateurs, many spacecraft watched the comet Mike Hankey, Nov. 15, 2013, Auberry, California.
    39. 39. End of ISON Nov 28, 2013
    40. 40. Rosetta Rendezvous on January 20, 2014 with comet 67P/Churyumov– Gerasimenko Obit until November, then send a lander
    41. 41. Disosaurs
    42. 42. Hakutake
    43. 43. Waiting for the next Hale Bopp