NASA’s Swift Mission Tallied Water From Interstellar Comet Borisov

NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory’s Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope captured six snapshots of Borisov as it traveled through the solar system. This GIF shows the UV images, with Borisov in the center. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

by Jeanette Kazmierczak
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — For the first time, NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory tracked water loss from an interstellar comet as it approached and rounded the Sun. The object, 2I/Borisov, traveled through the solar system in late 2019.

“Borisov doesn’t fit neatly into any class of solar system comets, but it also doesn’t stand out exceptionally from them,” said Zexi Xing, a graduate student at the University of Hong Kong and Auburn University in Alabama who led the research. “There are known comets that share at least one of its properties.”

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NIAC Award: Dynamic Orbital Slingshot for Rendezvous with Interstellar Objects

Rendering of the Dynamic Orbital Slingshot concept. (Credits: Richard Linares)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC)
Phase I Award
Amount: $125,000

Dynamic Orbital Slingshot for Rendezvous with Interstellar Objects

Richard Linares
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Grand Challenge of Visiting an Interstellar Object: The study of asteroids and comets has revealed a treasure trove of information about the formation and history of our solar system.

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New Formation Theory Explains the Mysterious Interstellar Object ‘Oumuamua

An artist’s impression of ‘Oumuamua.(Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser)

A new scenario based on computer simulations accounts for all of the observed characteristics of the first known interstellar object to visit our solar system

By Tim Stephens
University of California Santa Cruz

Since its discovery in 2017, an air of mystery has surrounded the first known interstellar object to visit our solar system, an elongated, cigar-shaped body named ‘Oumuamua (Hawaiian for “a messenger from afar arriving first”).

How was it formed, and where did it come from? A new study published April 13 in Nature Astronomy offers a first comprehensive answer to these questions.

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