SMM observes Halley's comet

This is a false color image of Hally’s Comet taken by the Solar Maximum Mission (SMM) Coronagraph/Polarimeter on February 28, 1986 when the comet’s orbit returned it to the inner solar system.

Halley's comet as imaged by SMM
Halley's comet as imaged by SMM.

Halley’s Comet was the first to be observed by spacecraft, such as SMM. The various spacecraft observations provided the first data on the details of the comets nucleus and tail and together the data supported Fred Whipple’s idea of a comet as a ‘dirty snowball’. Halley’s Comet will return again to the inner solar system in July 2061. The SMM Coronagraph design was led by the High Altitude Observatory / NCAR in Boulder, Colorado.

Written by Joan Burkepile