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Comets

Space

Spiky Hedgehog robots to hop around asteroids and comets

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.Read More

Space

Comet 67P and Rosetta make their closest pass of the Sun

On Thursday at 02:03 GMT, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and the European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta orbiter reached their closest point (known as perihelion) to the Sun, coming within 186 million km (115 million mi) of our parent star. The event was marked by an increase in activity on the comet, which is expected to continue over the next few weeks as it now heads toward the outer Solar System.Read More

Space

Powerful comet activity pushes back solar wind

Rosetta has detected a powerful jet of activity emitted from the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P). The force of the outburst, which is believed to be travelling at 10 m per sec (32 ft per sec), was strong enough to temporarily repel the solar wind – a constant stream of charged particles emanating from the Sun, that work to convey our star's magnetic field across the solar system.Read More

Space

Philae lander goes silent again

ESA’s Philae comet lander has once again gone silent. According to the space agency, the first spacecraft to make a soft landing on a comet lost radio contact with the Rosetta orbiter mothership on July 9. Despite this setback, engineers are still transmitting commands to the unmanned probe in the hope of reestablishing communications and getting it to continue observations.Read More

Space

Rosetta discovers active sinkholes on 67P

The Rosetta spacecraft appears to have discovered the presence of a series of sinkholes on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P). They're responsible for some of the increasingly active gas streams that are being observed by the orbiter as the comet speeds towards perihelion.Read More

Rosetta mission extended by nine months

ESA has announced that its Rosetta comet orbiter mission will be extended by nine months. The unmanned spacecraft that rendezvoused with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko last year will carry out further observations until September 2016, by which time it will be too far from the Sun to power itself and will land on the comet.Read More

Space

Philae comet lander phones home

After seven months of hibernation and dwindling hopes, the European Space Agency has announced that its unmanned Philae comet lander has reestablished contact with the Rosetta mothership and mission control. The European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt received the first signals on Saturday at 22:28 CEST, indicating that the lander has warmed up and charged its batteries sufficiently to return to active duty.Read More

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