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Comets

Space

Rosetta discovers building blocks of life in comet atmosphere

How exactly life got started here on Earth is a great mystery that has spawned countless scientific theories. The possibility that at least some of the vital building blocks for life were delivered by comets is one such line of thinking, and is also one of the reasons the Rosetta spacecraft has been circling comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko since 2014. The probe has now discovered evidence that key amino acids and molecules do indeed exist in the comet's atmosphere, throwing further weight behind the idea that these icy trailblazers can double as life-giving space couriers. Read More

Space

Fractured comet to make near-Earth pass today

Over the next two days a pair of comets will make dual close proximity flybys of Earth. It is theorized that at some point the comets had formed a single body, which may have fractured in two as it traveled through the solar system.Read More

Space

Sorry, but there are no giant caverns inside Rosetta comet

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.Read More

Space

Rosetta confirms the presence of water ice deposits on the surface of comet 67P

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.Read More

Space

Time running out for Philae

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.Read More

Space

New study reveals that Mercury experiences yearly meteor showers

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.Read More

Space

Rosetta spacecraft detects molecular oxygen outgassing from Comet 67P

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.Read More

Space

Boozy comet Lovejoy houses building blocks for life

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.
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Space

Rosetta explores the dark side

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.Read More

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