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The SOHO-500 Comet Contest

Press Release From: Goddard Space Flight Center
Posted: Thursday, May 2, 2002

See http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/comet.html

SOHO has discovered more than 420 comets in just under 6 years which makes SOHO the most prolific comet finder in the history of astronomy. Most of the comets were first spotted by amateurs around the world downloading our real time images to their home computers. All the SOHO images are freely available on the SOHO web site: http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/

THUS, ANYONE WITH INTERNET ACCESS CAN TAKE PART IN THE HUNT FOR NEW COMETS AND BE A COMET DISCOVERER. To read more about sungrazing comets and how to spot new ones visit: http://sungrazer.nascom.nasa.gov/

Solar radiation heats the comet which in turn causes the outgassing of the water molecules and dust. The dust scatters sunlight at visible wavelengths, making the comet bright in LASCO images. The water molecules break down into oxygen and hydrogen atoms, and the hydrogen atoms interact with the coronal plasma.

Launched almost 6 years ago as a project of international cooperation between the European Space Agency and NASA, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory has revolutionized the science of the Sun.

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