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The Mission

The BRRISON Mission, under NASA’s Planetary Science Division, will study the comet ISON as it approaches our Sun in the Fall of 2013. The mission is a collaboration between APL, NASA Glenn Research Center and the Southwest Research Institute.

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Geoff Brown

The sun and the orbits of the planets are all close to the plane of the Earth’s orbit which is called the ecliptic. Comet ISON is north of the ecliptic, so we say it is in the Northern Hemisphere, until November 9, 2013. It crosses into the Southern Hemisphere and remains there until shortly after its perihelion (when it is closest to the sun). While still very close to the sun, on Nov 28, 2013, ISON passes back into the Northern Hemisphere and remains there as it flies away, likely never to return.

The orbit of ISON is tilted almost 62 deg out of the plane of the ecliptic (this is not unusual for a comet). Hence, when the comet is closest to the Earth, on Dec 27, 2013, it is actually far north of the ecliptic plane.

Latest News

September 29, 2013
The Balloon Rapid Response for ISON (BRRISON) payload suffered an anomaly following launch Sept. 28 from the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Fort Sumner, N.M., preventing the payload from collecting mission data. Read more >

September 28, 2013
BRRISON Soars to Study Comet ISON
On Sept. 28, 2013, NASA launched the Balloon Rapid Response for ISON - designed and built by APL - to unlock to mysteries of Comet ISON, a rare type of sun-grazing comet from the Oort Cloud. Read more >

September 6, 2013
NASA's BRRISON Heads West to Prepare to Meet Comet ISON
NASA’s Balloon Rapid Response for Comet ISON (BRRISON) gondola and science instruments have departed APL — just five months after construction began – on a three-day road trip to the NASA Scientific Balloon Facility in Fort Sumner, New Mexico.Read more >

March 29, 2013
NASA's Swift Sizes Up Comet ISON
Astronomers from the University of Maryland at College Park and Lowell Observatory have used NASA's Swift satellite to check out comet C/2012 S1 (ISON), which may become one of the most dazzling in decades when it rounds the sun later this year. Read more >

February 20, 2013
BRRISON Prepares To Catch A Comet
NASA’s Balloon Rapid Response for Comet ISON (BRRISON) mission will observe this rare and fascinating Oort Cloud comet in late 2013. Read more >

February 5, 2013
NASA's Deep Impact Spacecraft Eyes Comet ISON
NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft has acquired its first images of comet C/2012 S1 (ISON), and many scientists anticipate that the spaceborne conglomeration of dust and ice may put on quite a show as it passes through the inner solar system this fall. Read more >

September 25, 2012
Big Sun-Diving Comet Discovered
Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) is heading for a very close encounter with the sun next year. In Nov. 2013, it will pass less than 0.012 AU (1.8 million km.) from the solar surface. The fierce heating it experiences then could turn the comet into a bright naked-eye object. Read more >

Comet ISON Toolkit

NASA.govFollow ISON with NASA Solar System Exploration and the Comet ISON Toolkit!
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ISON Trajectory

The ISON ephemeris showing the trajectory of the comet during the BRRISON mission. The BRRISON balloon will launch during a window of opportunity that is timed to coincide with positions 1-3 for ISON.

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