Kuiper Belt and Scattered Disk (07:28)
Comets, which are made of rocks, dust, and dirt held together by different ices, but ancient civilizations saw them as mysterious and dangerous forces of the gods; the Kuiper belt contains many icy comets which likely formed near the gas giant planets in the Milky Way. Within the scattered disk, many comets can be easily pushed out of orbit and go careening towards the sun, or even planets within the solar system.
Short Term Comets (03:36)
The perihelion of a comet is its closest point of approach to the sun; this is when the gases within the structure begin to evaporate creating the coma around the structure and shift its orbit and rotation.
NASA's Comet Research (10:20)
The NASA Deep Impact space probe zeroed in on the short period comet, known as Temple One, and shot it with a projectile with the intention to collect the debris and study the interior of the comet for further study. NASA's EPOXI Mission went after a fast spinning, disorderly comet known as Hartley 2 to understand how small comets rotate and disintegrate.
Oort Cloud and Asteroid Belt (09:05)
Billions of comets and asteroids live within the Oort Cloud, but were created near the sun and were flung out to the outer edge of the solar system by the gas giants; scientists have never directly observed this cloud, but have inferred its existence through observation. Meteor showers are the result of when a comet passes close enough to earth for dust and ice from its tails to cut through the thin atmosphere of the planet; it has been discovered there may be comets within the asteroid belt.
Impact Craters (06:03)
Most comets fade away over time as the ices which they are formed from evaporated throughout their orbit; some comets, known as "sungrazers" live short lives as they plunge right into the sun. Many scientists believe a comet was responsible for the famous extinction of the dinosaurs, the Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction Event.
Near-Earth Asteroids and Comets (05:45)
In July of 1994, the Schumaker-Levy 9 was a string of twenty-one comet fragments astronomers observed being gravitationally pulled towards Jupiter, one of the gas giants; these comets lefts impact scars on the planet the size of Earth. Asteroids are more numerous than comets, but they can be traced and potentially prevented from impact the Earth, making unpredictable and fast-moving comets more dangerous
Credits: Ride the Comet (00:31)
Credits: Ride the Comet
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