On Monday, a citizen scientist used data from NASA and ESA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observation Satellite (SOHO) to discover a never-before-seen comet, making it the 4,000th comet ever discovered in the spacecraft’s 25-year life,media CNET reported.
The comet, known as SOHO-4000, was between 15 and 30 feet in diameter and moved in the sun’s outer atmosphere until the asteroid center was officially named. NASA said in a news release Wednesday that it is unlikely to see the comet from Earth with or without telescopes.
“I feel very lucky to have found SOHO’s 4,000th comet. Trygve Prestgard, who first discovered the comet in SOHO data, said in a statement. “Although I knew SOHO was about to discover its 4,000th comet, I didn’t expect it to be it at first. After discussionwith with other SOHO comet hunters, the idea came up with the latest comet discovery. “
SOHO, launched in 1995, is a joint NASA and ESA mission. According to NASA, it is “studying the sun from the inside to the outside atmosphere, observing from a favorable position between the sun and the Earth, about a million miles from our planet.” Because of its long life and sensitive instruments, it has become an effective way to find comets. Citizen scientists often search for new comets through SOHO data.