This new ScienceCast gives you an updated look at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, target of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe. The spacecraft’s mission is to study the comet at close-range as it nears the sun and begins spewing jets of gas and dust that should evolve into a characteristic comet tail. That metamorphosis has already begun, as you’ll learn in this video.
Claudia Alexander, project scientist for the U.S. Rosetta Project at JPL, says in the video:
Comet 67P is coming alive. And it is even more active than I expected.
In January of 2014, with its destination in sight, the Rosetta spacecraft came out of its dee-space hibernation and turned its cameras toward the comet. At first, the comet looked like a dimensionless pinprick, inactive except for its quiet motion through space. Then, on May 4th a bright cloud appeared around the nucleus. Holger Sierks of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany where Rosetta’s OSIRIS science camera was built, said in the video:
It’s beginning to look like a real comet. It is hard to believe that only a few months from now, Rosetta will be deep inside this cloud of dust and en route to the origin of the comet’s activity.