I suppose this must be true for celestial objects as much as for some of us humans. Take this image on the left . Do you know what this is? Don’t feel bad if you don’t. This is a comet actually. What? You say it doesn’t look much like a comet? I would certainly agree with that observation. This is certainly not the image that comes to mind for most people when they see the word comet.
The image to the left is a digitally enhanced picture of the comet Temple-1. This little guy has seen a good deal of interest from Scientists in recent years. In 2005 NASA shot a probe at the comet to intentionally impact with the surface to learn about its composition.
Perhaps you were expecting a more traditional picture of a comet, like this artist’s rendition of Temple-1? Unfortunately, a lot of the comet’s existence isn’t so beautiful. Most comets are just balls of ice and rock that drift through space on orbits around the sun. Comets only gain this “tail” when their orbit takes it close to the sun, and the materials that make up the comet blow off of the surface.
Because of this change, every time such a comet “put on their face” it changes in size, and shape every time it goes through this transformation. That’s why scientists have put Temple-1 under their gaze again.
- Nasa To Bother Temple 1 Comet Again, See How Things Have Gone For It Lately (crunchgear.com)
- Recycled spacecraft takes second look at comet (nature.com)
- You: Latest images of comet Tempel 1 reveal a fragile surface (latimes.com)
- Nasa spacecraft Stardust sends back stunning images of crater on Tempel 1 (dailymail.co.uk)