Graphic showing spacecraft that observed comet ISON
Source: NASA
Published: December 4, 2013

An unprecedented space fleet tracked comet ISON:

  1. Solar Dynamics Observatory: SDO did not detect the comet.
  2. SOHO: SOHO observed ISON as it plunged through the Sun's corona in November during perihelion.
  3. STEREO: STEREO observed ISON as it passed by on its way to Sun in October.
  4. MESSENGER: MESSENGER observed ISON as it passed by Mercury on November 19th on its way to the sun.
  5. BRRISON: BRRISON, a sub-orbital balloon, launched successfully, but its instrument failed and did not observe the comet.
  6. FORTIS: FORTIS, a sounding rocket, launched on November 20, 2013 will obtain ultra-violet spectra from ISON.
  7. Hubble Space Telescope: Observed ISON in April-May and will see it again in October and December (if ISON survives).
  8. Spitzer Space Telescope: Hubble observed ISON in April-May and October. Hubble may see remnants (if any) in December.
  9. Chandra X-ray Observatory: In November, Chandra observed ISON with its X-ray instruments.
  10. International Space Station: Astronauts aboard the International Space Station observed Comet ISON on November 23, 2013.
  11. Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter was not able to observe ISON.
  12. Swift: In January and March, Swift observed ISON in X-ray and UV when it was 460 million miles away from the sun.
  13. Curiosity: Curiosity was not able to observe ISON as it passed by Mars.
  14. Opportunity: Opportunity was not able to observe ISON as it passed by Mars.
  15. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter observed ISON as it passed by Mars on October 1st.
  16. Deep Impact: Deep Impact imaged ISON for the first time on January 17 and 18, 2013, from 493 million miles away.
  17. SOFIA: SOFIA, an airborne observatory, captured images of ISON on October 24, 2013, in Infrared.


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