The last few years have seen a rise in the popularity of comets, on both professional and amateur levels.
Many cometary events, sometimes visible without a telescope, have triggered worldwide campaigns of ground and space based observations. For instance: the explosion of comet 17P/Holmes, the sungrazers C/2006 P1 (McNaught) and C/2012 S1 (ISON), or the forthcoming close encounter of C/2013 A1 (Siding Springs) and Mars.

Additionally, the Rosetta mission has provided a wealth of data which led to a huge leap forward in our understanding of comets, but a lot of work remains to be done.

With the overwhelming amount of data available, it becomes more and more important to release the models we use to analyze these events. This ensures not only that more people get the opportunity to investigate the data, but is also beneficial for the science itself as everybody is able to see, use, and improve the models.

As a professional planetary scientist, I have written many tools to process the data I use, especially in the field of cometary and asteroid science. With the progress of modern computers, it is now possible to translate these tools to simple HTML/Javascript interfaces and run the models in an Internet browser. I have decided to make my tools available in this way, to be used by anybody interested in modeling cometary processes.

For more information on my work and tools, check my personal webpage.

Models available

Open source

Science must be reproducible. This means that not only data has to be publicly available, but also the tools that led to a given interpretation.
In that spirit, all javascript code presented in this website is distributed under a BSD license, available in the header of each file.

The code can be consulted directly from the sources of these webpages (Ctrl+U in Firefox and Chrome).
It can also be accessed and improved through a public repository hosted by Bitbucket.

I intend to distribute the source code of shapeViewer as well, although open sourcing requires that the code is properly commented and organized, which will take some time.

Terms of use

I kindly ask each publication making use of my tools to include one of the following acknowledgement:

Finson-Probstein diagram:
This research has made use of the scientific software at
(Vincent, J.-B., Comet-toolbox: numerical simulations of cometary dust tails in your browser, Asteroids Comets Meteors conference, 2014, Helsinki)

This research has made use of the scientific software shapeViewer (


Dr. Jean-Baptiste Vincent
DLR Institute of Planetary Research
Rutherfordstrasse 2, 12489 Berlin, Germany

mail: jean-baptiste.vincent[at]
mail: jb.vincent[at]