A veteran NASA comet probe turned its sights on a new target, comet C/2012 S1 (ISON), which is barreling toward a close encounter with the sun this fall.
Though Comet ISON is still more 470 million miles away (located just inside the orbit of Jupiter), it already has formed a tail of glowing dust and gas stretching some 40,000 miles from the comet's body.
ANALYSIS: New Comet Discovered - Will It Be Spectacular?
Scientists are hopeful the comet, which is believed to be making its first pass into the inner solar system, may put on a spectacular show for Earthlings between November and January 2014 after it comes as close as about 1.1 million miles to the sun.
Comet ISON, which was discovered in September by two amateur astronomers using the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON) near Kislovodsk, Russia, was imaged by NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft in January. The 36-hour observation shows the dim but distinct point of light moving against a sea of bright background stars.
ANALYSIS: Incoming ISON to be Dazzling Daytime Comet?