New Small Comet Images--OH Trails

An independent camera for visible wavelengths, the Low-Resolution Visible Camera, records the emissions from the OH molecules formed when the small comets are disrupted and vaporized by sunlight.These emissions are the same as those observed in the gases associated with the large, well-known comets such as Comet Halley. These images provide solid evidence that the small comets have water snow in their interiors.

OH Comet with Face of the Earth image

Shown here are three snapshots (in one image) of the visible emissions from the cometary OH as the water vapor cloud from the small comet plunges toward the upper atmosphere. The superposed Earth image indicates that this event occurred above northern Europe. The three snapshots are taken in the space of a single image by electronically shuttering the camera three times. This image was taken at 0136:30 UT on 22 February 1997 from a spacecraft altitude of 39,000 kilometers and geographic latitude and longitude 63.6° N and 214.6° E, respectively.

All data and images are provided courtesy of Dr. Louis A. Frank at the University of Iowa. Any use of these images must credit Dr. Louis A. Frank, The University of Iowa and NASA.