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Wild-card comets

Part of Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites.

D.2.4.9. Wild-card comets..jpg

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FREQUENCY: UNKNOWN

Comets—clumps of ice and rock—come near Earth much less frequently than asteroids, but they travel much faster—one hundred times the speed of sound on Earth. So even a relatively small comet would impact with very high energy, and with little warning.

As a rule, comets are much harder to find and track than asteroids. Trillions of comets are hidden in a zone far beyond Pluto's orbit called the Oort cloud. Because comets are less reflective than asteroids, they can remain invisible until they're very close to Earth. As a