Science: A Comet Comes for Christmas

Three satellites will present a show of lights

Early on Christmas morning, just before the faintest glimmerings of dawn over the Pacific, a group of scientists from the U.S., West Germany and Britain will begin their holiday celebrations by monitoring a unique experiment: the creation of the first man-made comet. A satellite orbiting some 70,000 miles above earth will release four canisters containing about 90 lbs. of barium and copper powder, worth $240,000. The powder will swell into a gaseous cloud 100 miles across that will glow pale yellow-green and then a dusky purple; as it expands, the cloud will grow a...

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