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A Six-Minute Journey to Study Comet ISON

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A Six-Minute Journey to Study Comet ISON

In an example of an extremely tight turnaround, a NASA-funded team has spent six months preparing for a mid-November launch to observe Comet ISON during a six-minute sounding rocket flight. The Far-ultraviolet Off Rowland-circle Telescope for Imaging and Spectroscopy, or FORTIS, was originally designed – and flew for the first time in May 2013 -- to measure the presence of different atoms in far away galaxies. However, the telescope happens to also be well-tuned to study carbon monoxide, hydrogen, oxygen, and other interesting atoms expected on Come ISON as well, so the team sought funding from NASA to quickly launch it again.

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