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The White Comet was a massive comet, which was on a collision course with the continent of Downunda on Mobius hundreds of years ago. It was discovered while flying towards the planet by the Echidna scientists Jordann and Kayla-La. In order to prevent their city of Echidnaopolis from being destroyed by the comet, the two scientists came up with a daring plan to gather a large number of Chaos Emeralds and use their energies to lift off their city into the air and out of the comet's path. Their plan was approved by the High Council, and with the help of the Fire Ants, who dug under the city freeing it from its connection with the planet's surface, the city ascended into the sky as the Floating Island. Shortly after, the White Comet proceeded to collide with Mobius' surface where the city had recently been, creating the Great Crater. (StH: #34, TMS: #3)
The comet may have been a blessing in disguise. When Chaos Knuckles traveled through time to restore Echidnaopolis from another Zone, Knuckles decided to see what would happen if the city never had to be a floating island. Unfortunately for Knuckles, had the comet not threatened Echidnaopolis, an earthquake would have leveled the city. (StH: #101)