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STEREO spacecraft catch comet diving into Sun


Using instruments aboard NASA's twin STEREO spacecraft, four post-doctoral fellows at UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory were able to track the comet as it approached the Sun (Mar. 11-12, 2010) and estimate an approximate time and place of impact. They then looked at data from the ground-based Mauna Loa Solar Observatory in Hawaii and found images in the predicted spot of what appears to be a comet approaching the limb of the Sun from behind the solar disk.

"We believe this is the first time a comet has been tracked in 3D space this low in the solar corona," said Claire Raftery, a post-doctoral fellow newly arrived from Dublin's Trinity College. The movie a side-by-side view from both spacecraft as the comet approached the Sun in a composite of two coronagraphs and the Sun itself as seen in extreme UV light.

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