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.
From commercial space to space lettuce, 2015 was a bumper year for exploring the Solar System and beyond. To get the low down on the high ground, Gizmag looks back on the highlights of space exploration and technology over the past twelve months.
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).
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.
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."
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.
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.