AiS Challenge Team Interim


Team Number: 062

School Name: Shiprock High School

Area of Science: Earth and Space Sciences

Project Title: Halley



Halley's Comet

Our research on Comet Halley is very brief. We found that it was discovered in the late 19th century. Its next reappearance would be in the year 2061 which would be difficult for us to demonstrate it. The nucleus of Comet Halley is very dark and is approximately 16x8x8 kilometers. The ratio is only about 0.03, making it darker than coal and one of the darkest objects in our solar system. The density of Halley's nucleus is very low, about 0.1 gm/cm3, indicating that it is probably porous to the atmosphere, in conclusion making comet Halley a remain of large dust remaining after the ices have sublimed away. Comet Halley was studied in 1986 by five spacecraft from the USSR, Japan, and Europe. NASA's deep space satellite was redirected to monitor the solar wind upstream from Halley and the nucleus of Halley, is ellipsoidal in shape.

Halley's Comet Statistics

We found information on Halley's Comet based on its bright shows in scientific study in 1835 and 1910. The five spacecraft from the USSR, NASA, Japan and Europe showed views of the comet's false color in order to permit the measurement of slight brightness differences. The Giotto Mosaic, Ion Tail, Detachment Event, Ray Structure, Cylindrical Map of the Nucleus, and Map of the Nucleus were also projected by scientists. The Giotto spacecraft was launched by an Ariane-1 by ESA on July 2, 1895.During Halley's encounter on March 13, 1896, the Giotto spacecraft took 8 images of mosaic and was severely damaged by high-speed dust encounters during the flyby. Examining the dust jets being emitted from the nucleus, scientists were able to determine that only about 10% of the surface was active. Their mission was to:

  1. obtain color photographs of the nucleus
  2. determine the elemental and isotopic composition of volatile components in the commentary coma, particularly parent molecules
  3. characterize the physical and chemical processes that occur in the cometary's atmosphere and ionosphere
  4. determine the elemental and isotopic composition of dust particles
  5. measure the total gas-production rate and dust flux and size/mass distribution and derive the dust-to-gas ratio
  6. investigate the macroscopic systems of plasma flows resulting from the cometary's-solar wind interaction
Giotto spacecraft completed all task on their mission and returned a wealth of new scientific results.

The Ion and dust tail's structure is well-developed, stretching for over 6 degrees on the sky captured by Mauna Kea Observatory on IIIa-J emulsion without filters, in February 9, 1986. The detachment event was one of the more spectacular changes recorded for Halley during April 12, 1986. Three minutes of exposure was taken using the Michigan Schmidt telescope at Cerro Tololo International Observatory. The results of comet Halley shows part of the ion tail structure detached from the comet. The orientation of the comet is such that the tail is foreshortened, with the prolonged radius vector pointing west of north. The ray structure of Halley was captured on March 19, 1986, at the Mount Wilson/Las Campanas Observatories. The ten minute exposure was recorded at the focus of the 100 inch telescope on Las Camapanas in Chile. The close up image, covering the inner 1 degree of the comet, shows a prolonged radius vector extending to the left. The cylindrical map of the nucleus of Comet Halley was shaded to relief map of the nucleus of Comet 1/P Halley to the Simple Cylindrical projection. The cartographer's interpretation and strategies on Halley's Comet are necessarily certain, given the limited data available during their encounter on the comet. This interpretation stretches the data as far as is feasible. Halley is a particularly difficult object to map, given the nature of the data available. Many other interpretations might be possible. The relief drawing represents an attempt to show features visible on the disk in various spacecraft images, and the various ridges and hollows suggested by limb topography. The pictures of Comet Halley were conclusive of what the measurements that were presented.

Our focus on this comet is predicting if the comet will ever change in the next perihelion, finding out what USSR, Japan, and Europe found out about their studies on the comet, comparing the results of their study, the study of NASA when contacting the comet, and if the comet is more than a large dust remaining in the atmosphere. We focus on the effect the solar wind has the on comet. We hope to contact an astronomer on their views and information on Comet Halley. We also intend to analyze data from the past appearance.

Team Members

Team Mail

Sponsoring Teacher(s)

Project Mentor(s)