ESA/NASA project spots its 3,000th Comet
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ESA/NASA project spots its 3,000th Comet

The European Space Agency/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory – SOHO – detected its 3000th comet this week.

In another triumph for citizen science, it was spotted by Worachate Boonplod of Samut Songkhram, Thailand. But that is not so uncommon. Around 95% of SOHO comets have been found by citizen scientists as the SOHO data is publicly available online in near-real time.

“I am very happy to be part of a great milestone for SOHO’s comet project,” said Worachate.

“I would like to thank SOHO, ESA and NASA for making this opportunity possible, including other fellow comet hunters who I have learned a lot from.”

SOHO was launched in 1995 to observe the Sun and its stormy atmosphere, and the flow of the solar wind out into interplanetary space. The telescope’s prowess as a comet-hunter, however, was unplanned, but turned out to be an unexpected success. With its clear view of the Sun’s surroundings, SOHO can easily spot a special kind of comet called a sungrazer – so-called because of their close approach to the Sun.

You can read the full story of the discovery here: ESA/NASA solar observatory discovers its 3000th comet.

Bill Condie

Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.

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