Irene Baron: www.irenebaron.com
Comet 67P, also known as Chruyumov-Gerasimenko, is about 4-kilometers across or the size of a mountain. Because of its shape, some humorists are calling it the “rubber ducky” comet. This shape is caused by what looks like a double structure. As yet no one knows if it is one mass or two that were joined after formation.
The Rosetta spacecraft has been traveling since being launched in March 2004. It has been over ten years that it has traveled 6.5 billion kilometers toward the comet. Rosetta successfully reached the Comet 67P on 6 August 2014. The comet is currently about 400 million kilometers from Earth.
In the next weeks, the comet will be carefully orbiting the comet to determine where a probe should land on the comet. The 21-kilogram probe, named Philae, is planned to determine the physical characteristics of the comet’s outer surface and subsurface. At their Rosetta site, ESA lists the following investigations that are planned:
"The Philae surface science package, with a total mass of about 21 kg, includes an alpha-proton-X-ray spectrometer (APXS) to determine elemental composition; two gas chromatograph/mass spectrometers: the Cometary Sampling and Composition Experiment (COSAC) and Methods Of Determining and Understanding Light elements from Unequivocal Stable isotope compositions (MODULUS/Ptolemy) to study composition, isotopic abundances and to identify complex organic molecules in cometary material; Surface Electrical, Seismic, and Acoustic Monitoring Experiments (SESAME) to investigate surface material acoustically, measure dielectric properties of the environment, and monitor dust impacts; Multi-Purpose Sensors for Surface and Subsurface Science (MUPUS) to study physical properties of the comet; Comet Nucleus Sounding Experiment By Radiowave Transmission (CONSERT) to investigate electrical characteristics of the nucleus bulk material and internal structure; Rosetta Lander Magnetic field investigation and Plasma monitor (ROMAP) to investigate the comet's magnetic field and interaction with the solar wind; in-situ imaging systems known as Comet Nucleus Infrared and COMET 67P /Churyumov-Gerasimenko Visible Analyser (CIVA) and the Rosetta Lander Imaging System (ROLIS), and a drill and sample collector (SD2)."
This information will help scientists learn more about the beginning of our Solar System and perhaps the origin of planets.
I have to applaud the European Space Agency for evolving a concept into reality. Their accuracy and proficiency with which they planned and executed their Rosetta program is to be commended. Normal mortals like myself are always amazed at the precision with which the space program astronomers, mathematicians and astronomers perform. To create a craft capable of traveling ten years through space to successfully rendezvous with a comet to perform scientific experiments is a phenomenal achievement. I congratulate those involved with the project. What an achievement!
I watched the 6 August press conference as Professor Mark McCaughrean, Senior Advisor to ESA’s Science Directorate introduced the latest data. You can feel his excitement! We are once again mesmerized to watch the discoveries unfold as Rosetta works to allow us information gains about a comet. Thank you ESA for releasing information in a timely manner. Here are some great images provided by ESA. Enjoy!
EXCITING LINKS TO MORE DATA INCLUDE:
FOR THE CHILDREN and others wanting a mode of enlightenment easy to understand,
here is an fun educational animated story in the style of fairy tale.
You can select the English, French, German, Italian or Spanish language.
On August 6 the Rosetta spacecraft reached and began orbiting Comet 67Pt:
This link offers many videos, animations and press conferences to answer
your questions about the Rosetta spacecraft and the comet.
They include: Comet Time!, Can You Walk On The Surface of a Comet?,
What Rosetta Does Now, Postcards from Rosetta, Arriving At Last,
Rosetta Checks in to Comet Destination, and several Comet Watch sites.
The 11 August 2014 Astronomy Picture of the Day site offers
information and a video about the Rosetta spacecraft and Comet 67P.
Some of the arrival highlights are included here:
Exciting first images seen by the designers and engineers are at: