Comet Fact Sheet


[Image of Halley nucleus]

Information on Selected Comets

The image shown is a view of the nucleus of Comet Halley taken by the Giotto spacecraft. Below is a table of information on selected comets, and at the bottom of the page are comments on the comets.

                          Orbital   Perihelion   Perihelion   Semi-Major     Orbital        Orbital     Absolute
  Number & Name           Period       Date       Distance       Axis      Eccentricity   Inclination   Magnitude
  -------------           -------   ----------   ----------   ----------   ------------   -----------   ---------
  1P Halley             76.1 yrs.  1986-02-09    0.587 AU     17.94 AU        0.967       162.2 deg.      5.5                                                                                        
  2P Encke               3.30 yrs. 2003-12-28    0.340 AU      2.21 AU        0.847        11.8 deg.      9.8                                                                                             
  6P d'Arrest            6.51 yrs. 2008-08-01    1.346 AU      3.49 AU        0.614        19.5 deg.      8.5   
  9P Tempel 1            5.51 yrs. 2005-07-05    1.500 AU      3.12 AU        0.519        10.5 deg.     12.0
 19P Borrelly            6.86 yrs. 2001-09-14    1.358 AU      3.61 AU        0.624        30.3 deg.     11.9
 21P Giacobini-Zinner    6.52 yrs. 1998-11-21    0.996 AU      3.52 AU        0.706        31.8 deg.      9.0                          
 26P Grigg-Skjellerup    5.09 yrs. 1992-07-22    0.989 AU      2.96 AU        0.664        21.1 deg.     12.5                                                                                                       
 27P Crommelin          27.89 yrs. 1984-09-01    0.743 AU      9.20 AU        0.919        29.0 deg.     12.0                                                                                
 45P Honda-Mrkos          
        -Pajdusakova     5.29 yrs. 1995-12-25    0.528 AU      3.02 AU        0.825         4.3 deg.     13.5
 46P Wirtanen            5.46 yrs. 2013-10-21    1.063 AU      3.12 AU        0.652        11.7 deg.      9.0                          
 55P Tempel-Tuttle      32.92 yrs. 1998-02-28    0.982 AU     10.33 AU        0.906       162.5 deg.      9.0                                                                    
 67P Churyumov
         -Gerasimenko    6.57 yrs. 2002-08-18    1.292 AU      3.51 AU        0.632         7.1 deg.
 73P Schwassmann         5.36 yrs. 2006-06-02    0.937 AU      3.06 AU        0.694        11.4 deg.     11.7
        -Wachmann 3
 75P Kohoutek            6.24 yrs. 1973-12-28    1.571 AU      3.4 AU         0.537         5.4 deg.     12.1    
 76P West-Kohoutek
            -Ikemura     6.46 yrs. 2000-06-01    1.596 AU      3.45 AU        0.540        30.5 deg.     10.6
 81P Wild 2              6.39 yrs. 2003-09-25    1.583 AU      3.44 AU        0.540         3.2 deg.      6.5                                        
 95P Chiron             50.7 yrs.  1996-02-14    8.46 AU      13.7 AU         0.383         7 deg.     
107P Wilson-Harrington   4.29 yrs. 2001-03-26    1.000 AU      2.64 AU        0.623         2.8 deg.      9.0
     Hale-Bopp          4000. yrs. 1997-03-31    0.914 AU      250. AU        0.995        89.4 deg.     -1.0
     Hyakutake        ~40000. yrs. 1996-05-01    0.230 AU    ~1165. AU        0.9998      124.9 deg.

Halley - Subject of the International Halley Watch (IHW), a coordinated effort of ground-based and spacecraft observations.
Encke - Planned encounter by CONTOUR mission on 12 November 2003. Radar observations made by Arecibo Observatory in 1980 indicated a radius of 0.4 to 4.0 km.
d'Arrest - Planned encounter by CONTOUR mission on 16 August 2008.
Tempel 1 - Planned flyby and projectile impact by the Deep Impact mission on 4 July 2005.
Borrelly - Target of Deep Space 1 spacecraft in 2001.
Giacobini-Zinner - Target of ICE flyby on 11 Sep 1985 within 7800 km.
Grigg-Skjellerup - Target of Giotto flyby (within 200 km) on 10 July 1992.
Crommelin - Subject of 1984 test of the IHW network.
Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova - Originally planned target of Sakigake flyby at 10,000 km on 3 Feb 1996.
Wirtanen - Originally scheduled to be visited by the ESA Rosetta mission in 2011. Mission rerouted.
Temple-Tuttle - Originally planned target of Suisei flyby on 28 Feb 1998.
Churyumov-Gerasimenko - Planned target of Rosetta mission in Nov 2014.
Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 - Planned encounter by CONTOUR mission on 18 June 2006. Split into three large pieces in 1995.
Kohoutek - Observed by Skylab astronauts in Dec 1973 and Jan 1974.
West-Kohoutek-Ikemura - Original target of New Millenium Deep Space 1 spacecraft in 2000.
Wild 2 - Target of the Discovery coma sample return mission, Stardust , in Jan 2004.
Wilson-Harrington - At one time a possible target of Deep Space 1 spacecraft in 2001.
Chiron - Comet/asteroid, also known as asteroid 2060 Chiron. Subject of the Chiron Perihelion Campaign
Hale-Bopp - Discovered in July 1995. Bright comet, made closest approach to Earth on 22 March 1997.
Hyakutake - Discovered in January 1996. Bright comet, passed within 0.1 AU of Earth on 25 March 1996.

 Notes on the Fact Sheets
 Comet Home Page
 Directory to other Planetary Fact Sheets

[NASA Logo]
Author/Curator:
Dr. David R. Williams, dave.williams@nasa.gov
NSSDC, Mail Code 690.1
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD 20771
+1-301-286-1258


NASA Official: Ed Grayzeck, edwin.j.grayzeck@nasa.gov
Last Updated: 23 December 2005, DRW