Living on a Comet: 'Dirty Snowball' Facts Explained (Infographic)
Halley's Comet, a dusty ball of ice and frozen gases, spends most of its time in the chilly outland of the solar system.
Credit: By Karl Tate, Infographics Artist

A comet is a mountain of ice and dust, tumbling through space. When a comet approaches the sun, its ices sublimate (turn from solid to gas). Vapor, dust and gases stream out to form a hazy tail behind the comet.

What It Would Be Like to Live On a Comet

Halley's Comet, named after astronomer Edmond Halley, last visited the inner solar system in 1986, and will return in 2061.

Photos of Halley's Comet Through History

Halley's gravity is so low, an object dropped from chest height would take two minutes to fall to the surface. When close to the sun, Halley's surface temperature can reach 170 degrees Fahrenheit (77 degrees Celsius). [Take Our Comet Quiz]

Comet Halley has an elongated orbit that takes it from out beyond Neptune to closer to the sun than Venus's orbit. Halley is a "dirty snowball" containing dust, ice, carbon dioxide, ammonia, methane and more.

Read our full special report:

Living on Other Planets: What Would It Be Like?
Find out what it might be like to live on other worlds in our solar system, from Mercury to Pluto and beyond in our 12-part series.

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