Night time of the Comet | by Brian Koberlein



7 August 2014

Image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken by Rosetta.
Picture of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken by Rosetta.

The Rosetta spacecraft has efficiently moved into orbit round 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. We’ve been getting photographs of the comet as Rosetta approached, however now that it’s in orbit we’re getting excessive decision photographs such because the one above. You’ll discover the comet actually appears to be like like an asteroid, with what appears to be a rocky/dusty floor. That’s as a result of comets and asteroids aren’t as completely different as usually portrayed.

Comets are so-named as a result of they exhibit tails of fuel and dirt when passing by the inside photo voltaic system. These tails are on account of volatiles akin to methane and water ice on the floor of the comet. We have now additionally seen asteroids exhibit related tails of mud, although it isn’t as widespread.

The nucleus of Comet Halley.
The nucleus of Comet Halley.

That is the primary time we’ve been in a position to place a satellite tv for pc in orbit round a comet. We’ve had a number of flyby missions for comets, together with the well-known flyby of Comet Halley by the Giotto spacecraft. One big benefit of getting an orbiter is that we are able to make a long-term examine of the comet. Rosetta has arrived at 67P/C-G simply earlier than it begins its journey by the inside photo voltaic system, so the mission will present a primary hand take a look at how comets are warmed by the Solar and start to type a tail.

One in every of Rosetta’s first missions, nonetheless, can be to discover a good touchdown spot for its companion spacecraft Philae. That touchdown ought to happen someday in mid-November.

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