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Comets

Artist's impression of the Mercury periodic meteor shower (Image: NASA's Goddard Space Fli...

Sit out on a clear summer's night and the odds are that you'll be treated to a meteor shower that's the remnant of a comet's passing. However, such showers are not peculiar to our planet. NASA's unmanned MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) orbiter has uncovered evidence that the planet Mercury is subject to the same sort of periodic meteor showers as the Earth, only instead of a light show, it produces a spike in calcium in the planet's exosphere.  Read More

The latest findings indicate that the Earth's water may not have come from comets (Image E...

The oceans are a mystery in more ways than one, but you might not expect the answers to come from a pack of electronics and a comet. But that's what the European Space Agency (ESA) says about the unmanned Rosetta probe orbiting comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Though 67P is making its first visit to the inner Solar System and won't come closer to the Earth than hundreds of millions of miles, it is throwing new light on one of the fundamental questions in Earth's history: Where did the oceans come from?  Read More

Artist's impression of the Rosetta spacecraft (Image: ESA - J. Huart)

As Philae begins its long sleep, bedded down on the surface of comet 67P/Churymov–Gerasimenko (67P), mankind's attention shifts back to the Rosetta spacecraft as she begins the next phase of her audacious mission. Over the course of the next year, Rosetta will become the first spacecraft to orbit and observe a comet as it approaches the Sun, allowing the already phenomenally successful mission to detail the evolving characteristics of 67P as the heat from our star causes a dramatic rise in activity.  Read More

Photo mosaic showing Philae's approach, landing, and bounce (Image: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OS...

The European Space Agency (ESA) has released an image mosaic taken by the Rosetta mothership showing the Philae lander’s November 12 touchdown on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. The composite image shows the unmanned spacecraft making its approach to the surface of 67/P and its first rebound after its anchoring harpoons failed to deploy, along with timestamps in GMT (lander time) and images contrasting the touch sites before and after landing.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Philae lander (Image: ESA) (Image: ESA)

After its historic landing on a comet, the Philae spacecraft has gone silent. Trapped on its side in a shadowed hole, the unmanned European Space Agency lander was unable to receive enough sunlight to recharge its battery and contact was lost today at 00:36 GMT when power levels dropped below critical.  Read More

First surface image from Philae after comet landing (Image; ESA)

During Wednesday’s historic landing on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the European Space Agency's Philae lander suffered a setback that may cut its mission short. Due to equipment malfunctions, the unmanned, washing machine-sized lander failed to secure itself to the surface of the comet. In the 1/100,000 gravity, Philae bounced back into space twice, eventually landing in a hole about a kilometer (0.6 mi) from its designated landing area, where its batteries may not be able to charge properly.  Read More

Artist's impression of Philae on the comet surface (Image: ESA)

History was made today as a spacecraft the size of a fridge executed the first successful landing on a comet. The European Space Agency (ESA) confirms that at about 16:00 GMT the unmanned Philae space probe touched down on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at the landing site known as Agilkia. The comet and spacecraft are 510 milion km (310 million miles) from Earth, so the news of the landing took 28 minutes and 20 seconds to reach mission control in Darmstadt, Germany.  Read More

Rosetta has picked up a mysterious 'song' from comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (Image: ESA...

On the eve of the planned first landing on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced that the unmanned Rosetta orbiter carrying the Philae lander has recorded a "song" emanating from the comet. The electromagnetic melody was detected by the probe’s Rosetta Plasma Consortium, which is a suite of five instruments used to study 67P.  Read More

Artist's impression of Philae separating from Rosetta (Image: ESA)

The European Space Agency (ESA) has given the green light for its unmanned Philae probe to attempt the historic first landing on a comet. At a press conference at at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, representatives of ESA and the German Aerospace Centre told the media that both the Rosetta mothership and the Philae lander are in excellent shape for Wednesday morning’s (GMT) planned separation and landing on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Philae lander at site Agilkia (Image: ESA)

Last month, ESA designated the spot where Rosetta’s Philae lander will touch down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as "Site J." However, the space agency didn't think that was zippy enough, so it's now known as "Agilkia," after an island on the Nile.  Read More

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