NASA announced that their solar observatory (the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO) launched in 1995 in conjunction with the ESA has just discovered its 3,000th comet.
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A milestone was recently reached by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, also known as SOHO. On September 13th, the probe spotted its 3,000th comet, the most of any such device thus far.
According to the NASA press release, only around 12 comets had been detected from space before its launch in 1995, compared to around 900 from the ground.
When NASA and the European Space Agency decided to jointly embark on the project, the original mission was to observe the sun and its surrounding activities. These include tracking solar winds as well as gas combustions known as coronal mass ejections. SOHO’s comet sighting abilities were an unexpected surprise, but it has been particularly good at finding sungrazer comets because of their proximity to the sun.
While the craft is government-owned, NASA makes the information gathered publicly accessible. Citizen scientists are responsible for identifying 95 percent of SOHO’s comet discoveries. In fact, the milestone 3,000th comet was found by a self-described comet hunter from Thailand.
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