Spitzer Eyes Comet ISON
Comet ISON (officially known as C/2012 S1) is, like all comets, a dirty snowball made up of dust and frozen gases like water, ammonia, methane and carbon dioxide -- some of the fundamental building blocks that scientists believe led to the formation of the planets 4.5 billion years ago. ISON will pass within 724,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) of the sun on Nov. 28, making it a sungrazer comet that will evaporate its ices and even its rocky dust near perihelion, revealing even more of the comets composition.
NASA is bringing to bear a vast fleet of spacecraft, instruments, and space- and Earth-based telescopes to study this rarely-seen type of comet over the next year. ISON stands for International Scientific Optical Network, a group of observatories in ten countries who have organized to detect, monitor, and track objects in space. ISON is managed by the Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics, part of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The complete list of observers is: C.M. Lisse, R.J. Vervack, and H.A. Weaver, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory; J.M. Bauer, Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech; Y.R. Fernandez, University of Central Florida; M.S.P. Kelley, University of Maryland; M.M. Knight, Lowell Observatory; D. Hines, Space Telescope Science Institute; J-Y Li, Planetary Science Institute; W. Reach, USRA/SOFIA; M. L. Sitko, University of Cincinnati; P. A. Yanamandra-Fisher, SSI; K.J. Meech and J. Rayner, University of Hawaii.