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Comets

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
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
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
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
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
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

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

Comets may be deep-frozen fossils that could provide clues as to the earliest days of the Solar System, but what does one smell like? Not very nice, says ESA, whose Rosetta space probe has discovered that comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P/C-G) has the aroma of rotten eggs and horse dung. Read More
After a dramatic, one-in-a-million-years close encounter between Mars and comet Siding Spring on Sunday, all five functioning US Mars probes survived and are reportedly healthy. NASA confirms that the Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter, along with the rovers Curiosity and Opportunity came through without a scratch and are returning valuable data on the comet. Read More
NASA is busy readying its considerable arsenal of scientific instruments, spacecraft and rovers for a close encounter with comet C/2013 A1 on Sunday, Oct 19. The comet's closest approach with a planetary body will be with Mars, at which point it will miss the Red Planet by only 87,000 miles (140,013 km), less than half the distance between Earth and our moon, traveling at speeds of up to 126,000 mph (202,777 km/h). Read More
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