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Name: Woodrow
Status: other
Grade: other
Location: NV
Country: N/A
Date: N/A


Question:
Your answer on the comet tail makeup (http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/ast99/ast99312.htm) needs fleshing out please. This giant comet McNaught coming through soon has a whopper of a tail 1 million kilometers long. I would very much appreciate to know what happens to earthlings and their satellite communications if we pass through the tail? Some ions are healthy for us right? The ones you listed don't look very healthy. What about metals, gases. Do we all die the death? Is there going to be agony involved?


Replies:
You may have heard the expression "the dose makes the poison." That certainly applies here. Although the substances making up comets do not support human life, and in fact some of the components are toxic to humans, a comet's tail is so tenuous that it doesn't make any discernible addition to the Earth's atmosphere even if the Earth passes through a comet's tail.

When Earth passes through a comet's tail or orbital track, however, there can be very nice meteor showers.

Richard Barrans, Ph.D., M.Ed.
Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Wyoming



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