The recently discovered comet called C/2020 F3, also known as NEOWISE after the NASA telescope that discovered it, will make its closest approach to the Earth on July 22.
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- On the day, the comet, which takes 6,800 years to complete one lap around its orbit, will be at a distance of 64 million miles or 103 million kilometers while crossing Earth’s outside orbit.
What is Coma?
On July 3, the comet was closest to the sun at 43 million km. On this day, the comet cruised inside Mercury’s orbit and, due to its proximity to the sun, its outer layer was released creating an atmosphere – referred to as coma – of gas and dust from its icy surface.
This atmosphere sometimes leads to formation of a bright tail of debris that can extend for thousands or millions of kilometres.
What Are The Differences Between An Asteroid, Comet, Meteoroid, Meteor and Meteorite?
- Asteroid: A relatively small, inactive, rocky body orbiting the Sun.
- Comet: A relatively small, at times active, object whose ices can vaporize in sunlight forming an atmosphere (coma) of dust and gas and, sometimes, a tail of dust and/or gas.
- Meteoroid: A small particle from a comet or asteroid orbiting the Sun.
- Meteor: The light phenomena which results when a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere and vaporizes; a shooting star.
- Meteorite: A meteoroid that survives its passage through the Earth’s atmosphere and lands upon the Earth’s surface.
Launched in December 2009 as the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, the space telescope was originally designed to survey the sky in infrared, detecting asteroids, stars and some of the faintest galaxies in space.
It did so successfully until completing its primary mission in February 2011.
- In December 2013, it was re-purposed for the NEOWISE project as an instrument to study near-Earth objects, or NEOs, as well as more distant asteroids and comets.
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