At the Comet ISON Observing Campaign (CIOC) meeting in August 2013, some outstanding scientists led by Dr Mike Mumma of NASA Goddard Centre for Astrobiology, discuss their experiments for Nov/Dec 2013 :
Mumma mentioned that their studies have a population of 26 Comets. They have already identified 24 molecules. They are interested in comparing Kuiper Belt Comets (which move elliptically in the plane of the ecliptic) to Oort Cloud Comets (ISON).
The experiments will have the following overall objectives.
The main points I took home :
- The level of sophistication of our scientists’ study is well beyond most peoples vision or comprehension
- Water is already accepted as the pre-dominant “non organic volatile”
- Extensive experiments on 14 previous COMETS will be continued on ISON
- A “taxonomy” (ie classification system) is evolving for Comets. But I notice exoComets are not yet part of the planned taxonomy
- ExoComets get a promising mention on one slide : The origins of Oort Cloud Comets is still uncertain – are they exoComets. I say “YES”.
- Finding “life” continues to be a challenge until NASA defines what are the biomarkers for life – expect paper in 2014 by NASA astrobiologist Chris McKay. Focus will continue to be looking for complex molecules required in DNA.
ISON presents yet another opportunity to continue the relentless advance of human discoveries.
This one slide, showing the “paradigm changing items”, is probably enough detail for this BLOG. See the video to understand where we are in the actual realization that “Life IS a Cosmic Phenomenon”.
They seem to have not considered the possibility that inbound hyperbolic comets like ISON might come from adjacent stars. It is only after the kind of event we saw yesterday (where ISON’s eccentricity dropped below “1.00”) that the SUN captures the COMET and traps it in an elliptical orbit of thousands of years. ISON’s orbit period is now 400,864 years 🙂 Sorry ISON. I will sadly not be around when you finally return 400,000 years from now.
To understand the “capture” (or non Capture) issue better, click here to see an explanation from JPL’s Dr Alan Chamberlin on why, even though “e” has just dipped below “1”, it is not correct to say that we’re witnessing the capture of comet ISON.