Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

221,344 subscribers and counting ...

Rosetta spacecraft watches target comet come alive

Later this year, the Rosetta spacecraft will orbit and land on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Here’s an update, in this new NASA video.

Close-up of comet 67P/C-G on 30 April 2014.  Credit: ESA/ Rosetta/ MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/ UPD / LAM/ IAA/ SSO/ INTA/ UPM/ DASP/ IDA

Close-up of comet 67P/C-G on 30 April 2014. Image via ESA/ Rosetta/ MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/ UPD / LAM/ IAA/ SSO/ INTA/ UPM/ DASP/ IDA

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.

Click here for the full transcript of this new video by NASA

EarthSky

MORE ARTICLES