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Friday, November 19, 2010

Progress in Wars Against Comets


Comet Jets in action.

By Mark Daymont
Space Center Educator
From his Blog: Spacerubble

Congratulations to our scientists who study comets and asteroids. JPL EPOXI mission controllers managed to fly the spacecraft to within 800 miles of Comet Hartley 2 to get some of the best pictures yet of a comet in action, The picture above shows streaming jets of dust and gas coming off of the surface. This time scientists were able to pinpoint jets to particular surface features, something we haven't been able to do before. All I could think of as I saw the pictures come in was, "SO that's what a comet does!" The comet tumbles as it orbits around the sun, the surface warms up and begins spewing jets of stuff out into space, forming a cloud of tiny debris which is blown away from the comet itself by the action of the solar wind. Much later, as Earth moves in its own orbit around the Sun, it encounters remnants of this debris release, and the particles end up entering our atmosphere at extreme speeds, creating our meteor showers.

Japanese scientists made a breakthrough with the Hayabusa satellite, which captured some of the debris left behind either by comets or shattered asteroids floating in the inner solar system.

Asteroid bits captured in gel.

The Hayabusa spacecraft spent two and a half months flying around the astroid Itokawa in 2005. It captured buts of the asteroid floating around it, and made a return course back to Earth. The sample capsule plunged into the Earth's atmosphere and was retrieved. Scientists are now studying the particles to learn the composition of the asteroid.

Celebrations here in the Bunker. Our close reconnaissance of Comet Hartley 2 gives us unprecedented views of the enemy in action. We can actually see in the photos how the rock bomber releases its micro weapons into an orbit which the enemy hopes intercepts the Earth. Such tactical information may be of great use to us as we plan counter-operations.

Kudos to the Japanese who have actually obtained unexploded asteroid ordinance for us to examine. Scientists will use these pieces to begin unravelling the mystery of these enemy weapons which could cause untold devastation if they should happen to smack into our planet.

It's advances like these that keep our hope alive that we may yet find a way to protect ourselves from deadly attacks from the Comet Empire.
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