Topic: Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
Pasadena, CA – Data from NASA instruments aboard the ESA (European Space Agency) Rosetta mission have helped reveal that comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has its own far-ultraviolet aurora.
It is the first time such electromagnetic emissions in the far-ultraviolet have been documented on a celestial object other than a planet or moon. A paper on the findings was released today in the journal Nature Astronomy.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, CA – NASA says the entire history of human existence is a tiny blip in our solar system’s 4.5-billion-year history. No one was around to see planets forming and undergoing dramatic changes before settling in their present configuration. In order to understand what came before us — before life on Earth and before Earth itself — scientists need to hunt for clues to that mysterious distant past.
Those clues come in the form of asteroids, comets and other small objects. Like detectives sifting through forensic evidence, scientists carefully examine these small bodies for insights about our origins.
Written by Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
Washington, D.C. – NASA has selected two finalist concepts for a robotic mission planned to launch in the mid-2020s: a comet sample return mission and a drone-like rotorcraft that would explore potential landing sites on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.
The agency announced the concepts Wednesday, following an extensive and competitive peer review process. The concepts were chosen from 12 proposals submitted in April under a New Frontiers program announcement of opportunity.
Written by Sarah Frazier
Greenbelt, MD – Our Sun is active: Not only does it release a constant stream of material, called the solar wind, but it also lets out occasional bursts of faster-moving material, known as coronal mass ejections, or CMEs.
NASA researchers wish to improve our understanding of CMEs and how they move through space because they can interact with the magnetic field around Earth, affecting satellites, interfering with GPS signals, triggering auroras, and — in extreme cases — straining power grids.
While we track CMEs with a number of instruments, the sheer size of the solar system means that our observations are limited, and usually taken from a distance.
Written by DC Agle
Pasadena, CA – Images returned from the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission indicate that during its most recent trip through the inner solar system, the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was a very active place – full of growing fractures, collapsing cliffs and massive rolling boulders.
Moving material buried some features on the comet’s surface while exhuming others. A study on 67P’s changing surface was released Tuesday, March 21st, in the journal Science.
Written by Elizabeth Landau
Pasadena, CA – On September 30th, the European Space Agency concluded its Rosetta mission and the study of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
During the final month of the mission, NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft had a unique opportunity to provide a “big picture” view of the comet as it was unobservable from Earth. Ground-based telescopes could not see comet 67P, because the comet’s orbit placed it in the sky during daylight hours.
From September 7th through September 20th, the Kepler spacecraft, operating in its K2 mission, fixed its gaze on comet 67P. From the distant vantage point of Kepler, the spacecraft could observe the comet’s core and tail. The long-range global view of Kepler complements the close-in view of the Rosetta spacecraft, providing context for the high-resolution investigation Rosetta performed as it descended closer and closer to the comet.
Written by DC Agle
Pasadena, CA – A new image of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was taken by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft shortly before its controlled impact into the comet’s surface on September 30th, 2016. Confirmation of the end of the mission arrived at ESA’s European Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany, at 4:19am PDT (7:19am EDT / 1:19pm CEST) with the loss of signal upon impact.
The final descent gave Rosetta the opportunity to study the comet’s gas, dust and plasma environment very close to its surface, as well as take very high-resolution images.
Written by DC Agle
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter has broken the record to become humanity’s most distant solar-powered emissary. The milestone occurred at 11:00am PT (2:00pm ET, 19:00 UTC) on Wednesday, January 13th, when Juno was about 493 million miles (793 million kilometers) from the sun.
The previous record-holder was the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft, whose orbit peaked out at the 492-million-mile (792-million-kilometer) mark in October 2012, during its approach to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Written by Bill Steigerwald
Greenbelt, MD – Comet Lovejoy lived up to its name by releasing large amounts of alcohol as well as a type of sugar into space, according to new observations by an international team. The discovery marks the first time ethyl alcohol, the same type in alcoholic beverages, has been observed in a comet.
The finding adds to the evidence that comets could have been a source of the complex organic molecules necessary for the emergence of life.
Written by DC Agle
Pasadena, CA – Since its arrival at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft has been surveying the surface and the environment of this curiously shaped body. But for a long time, a portion of the nucleus — the dark, cold regions around the comet’s south pole — remained inaccessible to almost all instruments on the spacecraft.
Due to a combination of its double-lobed shape and the inclination of its rotation axis, Rosetta’s comet has a very peculiar seasonal pattern over its 6.5-year-long orbit. Seasons are distributed very unevenly between the two hemispheres. Each hemisphere comprise parts of both comet lobes and the “neck.”
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