The comet was first discovered at the end of March and prompted excitement that it could soon be seen with the naked eye. Unlike other recent prospects, such as Comet Atlas, the newly discovered object appears to have survived its close encounter with the Sun and has stayed together as it makes its way around Earth.
It is so close that it can be spotted from the ground, using the naked eye. But new photos from the International Space Station show it in stunning detail.
Comet NEOWISE from ISS, July 5th pic.twitter.com/pAbGdtchAc— Seán Doran (@_TheSeaning) July 7, 2020
It’s incredible to think that there are people who have spent time in Space, looking at the Earth, the stars, and the other planets, walking among us and living ordinary lives.
Right time, right place. @NASASun's Parker Solar Probe captured a unique view of comet NEOWISE thanks to its fortunate position in space: https://t.co/sOtT7K6NY4— NASA 360 (@NASA360) July 11, 2020
Want to see comet NEOWISE yourself? We got your back: https://t.co/ACaBKl1eL0 pic.twitter.com/icnxUbukaM
This illustration shows how scientists used data from NASA's WISE spacecraft to determine the nucleus sizes of comets. They subtracted a model of how dust and gas behave in comets in order to obtain the core size. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
According to Nasa, Comets that take more than 200 years to make one revolution around the Sun are notoriously difficult to study. Because they spend most of their time far from our area of the solar system, many "long-period comets" will never approach the Sun in a person's lifetime. In fact, those that travel inward from the Oort Cloud -- a group of icy bodies beginning roughly 186 billion miles (300 billion kilometers) away from the Sun -- can have periods of thousands or even millions of years.
Another solar observatory caught a glimpse of comet #NEOWISE, too — the @esa/@NASA SOHO spacecraft watched the comet approach the Sun in late June 2020. This data is from the its coronagraph instrument, which blocks out the Sun’s bright face to reveal the outer atmosphere. pic.twitter.com/xRiUDNMSNd— NASA Sun & Space (@NASASun) July 10, 2020
"Curiosity is the essence of human existence and exploration has been part of humankind for a long time. The exploration of space, like the exploration of life, if you will, is a risk. We’ve got to be willing to take it." - Capt. Eugene Cernan, Apollo 17 astronaut, the last man on the Moon