NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, or STEREO, is monitoring Comet ISON as it approaches the sun. NASA’s twin Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft are parked in Langrange zones, known as the L4 and L5 Lagrangian points, each centered about 93 million miles away along Earth’s orbit.
The latest movie from the STEREO-A spacecraft’s Heliospheric Imager shows the comet moving in from the left side over a two-day period from Nov. 20 to Nov. 22, 2013.
In addition to Earth and Mercury, Comet Encke can also be seen moving through the middle of the view. The sun sits outside the field of view of this camera, located to the right, off-screen, hinted at by the steady stream of particles, called the solar wind, moving in from the right. Watch.
In addition NASA’s Messenger spacecraft snapped new images of Comet ISON on Nov. 19 as the icy object sped by Mercury at a distance of 22.5 million miles. Meanwhile, the agency’s sun-studying Stereo-A probe captured its own ISON photo on Nov. 21, and a phalanx of other solar space observatories will watch the comet’s close encounter with the sun on Thursday, which will bring it within just 730,000 miles of the solar surface.
Will it be toast? We’ll find out soon enough.