Learn how to build an icy model of a comet, complete with shooting jets. Safety precautions are required.


Music: Theme

Hi, my name is Art Chmielewski. I'm the NASA Project Manager of the Rosetta Mission, which will land a European spacecraft on a comet.

And today we will learn how to build a model of a comet. It will be a working model of a comet with jets, gas, just exactly as it happens in space.

We're dealing with very cold materials.

We're going to use goggles here.

We're going to use safety gloves.

And we're going to be very careful in how we put all the ingredients together.

Now this is just regular water but it is important because there is a lot of water in comets.

And what are the other ingredients?

1 liter water (comets have lots of water) and 2 cups dirt (minerals, water and dust)

1 Tbsp. starch (optional to hold our comet together) and 1 Tbsp. syrup (for organics)

1 Tbsp. vinegar (for amino acids) and 1 Tbsp. rubbing alcohol (for methanol)

And for me, very important ingredient to make this model enjoyable, some ice cream.

Hmm, I love doing these shows.

Very well, we are ready for dry ice.

I put this dry ice here and we're going to put it in our water soup.

5 pounds of dry ice (with hammer or mallet crush into tiny bits; comets are icy dirtballs)

You have to be very careful with this part. Look at all this moisture being frozen.

Maybe even add a little bit of water here.

Wow, that's going to be a big comet.

This is actually not dangerous. You don't have to be afraid to inhale it

because this is just simply moisture in the air being frozen out by the gas that is coming out of dry ice.

So that's nothing dangerous.

Oh, you see, good that I have my safety goggles on.

It's shooting out gas, just like comets shoot out geysers from all these different sides.

Here's our comet.

Oh, we're just about, just about to make another comet.

This will be one of the smaller comets but, you know, there are comets that size.

They fly through our solar system all the time.

Most of the comets are bigger. They are about the size of an average city.

So here's your comet. No matter what you got, it's still an accurate model of a comet because comets come in all shapes, sizes, some of them are darker, some of them are lighter, producing more gas, shooting out jets from different locations.

So what you got is a very good model of a comet.

I hope you enjoyed making it and I hope you had right ingredients.

One of them is delicious ice cream. Love this hydrogen.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
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