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The graceful comet ZTF has also been spotted from space

Comet ZTF is gradually receding. But its passage through the solar system can be immortalized from space by a nanosatellite of the Artemis I mission.

Comet ZTF is gradually crossing the winter sky. It has exceeded its maximum brightness: At the beginning of February 2023, Comet ZTF was at its maximum brightness, and therefore the most visible. from Feb 20Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is located in the constellation Taurus. You’d better be equipped with an astronomical instrument in the hope of finding it, because it becomes very difficult with the naked eye.

But that doesn’t stop us from liking it in another way. Stunning images have immortalized Comet ZTF’s passage through our skies. This small, icy, dusty object has just been photographed from space. It was one of the vehicles of the Artemis I mission that observed the comet. It’s EQUULEUS, a Japanese nanosatellite that left aboard the Space Launch System (SLS) with the Orion capsule in November 2022. This little device was to be used to test navigation techniques in the Earth-Moon system, and it’s a little power-hungry.

Comet ZTF observed from space. // source : aquiles

Pictures of comet ZTF were taken by a small satellite

the Lagrangian points They are locations in space. The gravitational forces of two bodies (such as the Earth and the Moon) are in equilibrium at these points.

EQUULEUS is sailing toward the lunar Lagrangian point. This series of images were taken by calculating the timing and direction from the relative orbits of the comet and EQUULEUS. », Hinge Mission Twitter account, February 21, 2023. The images were acquired on February 12, one month after the perihelion (the point of its orbit closest to the Sun) of C/2022 E3 (ZTF). The nanosatellite was at a distance of approx 69 million km of the comet.

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It’s always nice when scientists see a comet a little closer, from Earth or from space. In the case of C/2022 E3 (ZTF), there won’t be another chance: the comet probably won’t come to see us again after that. Its orbit is so eccentric that it must never again pass through the Earth’s ocean. So we must take advantage of its approach to collect as much data as possible about this amazing green comet.

For amateur astronomers, don’t be discouraged: even if Comet ZTF is moving away from us, there are other astronomical shows that can be seen until the end of February, even without an instrument.

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