A new study spearheaded by researchers from the Rheinische Institut für Umweltforschung an der Universität zu Köln, Germany, has used data collected by ESA's Rosetta spacecraft to establish that the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P) is devoid of any large interior caverns. It had previously been theorized that the relatively low mass of the comet in regard to its volume may have resulted from cavernous hollows within the celestial wanderer.
New analysis of data collected by ESA's Rosetta orbiter has revealed significant quantities of water ice on the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P). While the presence of water had previously been observed on 67P both in the comet's coma, and as frost on the surface, this discovery represents the first time that a surface deposit of water ice has ever been definitively confirmed on the comet.
Time is running out for ESA's Philae comet lander. According to the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the unmanned spacecraft last heard from on July 9, 2015 will face a "lander hostile" situation by the end of January as Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko moves farther away from the Sun. Despite this, mission control is making a last-ditch effort to revive the lander.
The team of scientists responsible for operating the OSIRIS instrument aboard ESA's Rosetta spacecraft has launched a dedicated website in order to grant the public unprecedented access to images snapped of the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P).
According to a new study, the planet Mercury experiences regular meteor showers at roughly the same time each year, as it moves through a trail of dust thrown off by the ancient comet Encke. The work was presented at the annual Meeting of the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society at National Harbor, Maryland.
Despite being the third most abundant element in the Universe, molecular oxygen, or O₂, is relatively rare off Earth. That's why it raised a few eyebrows at ESA when the space agency's Rosetta spacecraft discovered oxygen molecules jetting out of the nucleus of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. According to the Rosetta team, the oxygen is outgassing in such abundance that its presence may date back to the formation of the comet over 4.6 billion years ago.
Astronomers have discovered large quantities of alcohol and sugar, as well as the presence of complex organic molocules, on the comet Lovejoy. The observations, made by the 30 meter (98 ft) radio telescope at Pico Veleta, Spain, support the theory that comets may have played an important role in the formation of life on Earth.
Earth isn't the only place with seasons. Other planets and even very small celestial bodies can have them, too, as ESA's Rosetta probe has shown in its explorations of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. When the unmanned spacecraft went into orbit about the comet, it revealed that the southern hemisphere of the dumbbell-shaped nucleus is shrouded in a dark winter that lasts over five years and, according to data collected by the Rosettas's onboard spectrometer, hides ice in larger amounts than the rest of the comet.
On August 13, comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko and ESA’s unmanned Rosetta probe made their closest approach to the Sun. Both are now heading for the outer Solar System, but Rosetta still has secrets to reveal. One is that the comet has a daily water cycle that, according to the space agency, keeps it "alive."
As demonstrated by the bumpy landing of ESA's Philae lander on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, exploring comets, asteroids, and small moons can be difficult due to their low gravity. Not only can landing on one be like trying to alight on a trampoline, but roving around their surfaces is next to impossible because the negligible gravity offers practically no traction. To overcome this, a team of engineers is developing Hedgehog, a completely symmetrical robot rover for low-gravity exploration that moves by hopping.