NASA

Comet Elenin is attracting more and more interest in the scientific community; at the end of July observations were made on the largest submillimeter telescope in the world JCMT. Since August 1st, observations are ongoing with the space telescope STEREO-B; they will continue for several weeks. It is probable that the comet will be visible in the field of the COR2 (STEREO) coronagraph beginning August 20. Beginning September 23rd, for 6 days, the comet will be visible in the field of view of the LASCO C3 coronagraph on the SOHO spacecraft.

Very recently I received information that several more spacecraft may observe comet C/2010 X1 (Elenin), specifically Venus Express and Messenger. These observations will allow us to obtain unique information about the comet at the time of its perihelion when it will not be observable from the Earth.

Observations are planned with SPICAV UV in the 110-310 nm wavelength band on the Venus Express spacecraft and Messenger’s MASCS spectrograph. Moreover, by simultaneous observations from two spacecraft with different points of view, with the VMC camera on Venus Express and the MDIS camera on Messenger, it is possible to obtain a three-dimensional model of the comet’s coma! It is possible that comet C/2010 X1 (Elenin) may become the brightest comet that these two spacecraft may observe during their entire time of service. I hope this application is approved and the observations take place.

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