How to Find Rosetta’s Comet In Your Telescope

How would you like to see one of the most famous comets with your own eyes? Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko plies the morning sky, a little blot of fuzzy light toting an amazing visitor along for the ride — the Rosetta spacecraft. When you look at the coma and realize a human-made machine is buzzing around inside, it […]

Rosetta Discovery of Surprise Molecular Breakup Mechanism in Comet Coma Alters Perceptions

A NASA science instrument flying aboard the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft has made a very surprising discovery – namely that the molecular breakup mechanism of “water and carbon dioxide molecules spewing from the comet’s surface” into the atmosphere of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is caused by “electrons close to the surface.” The surprising results relating […]

Rosetta to Snuggle Up to Comet 67P for Closest Encounter Yet

Who doesn’t like to snuggle up with their Valentine on Valentine’s Day? Rosetta will practically whisper sweet nothings into 67P’s ear on February 14 when it swings just 3.7 miles (6 km) above its surface, its closest encounter yet.(…)Read the rest of Rosetta to Snuggle Up to Comet 67P for Closest Encounter Yet (448 words) © Bob King […]

Rosetta Sees Fascinating Changes in Comet 67P

It only makes sense. Sunlight heats a comet and causes ice to vaporize. This leads to changes in the appearance of surface features. For instance, the Sun’s heat can gnaw away at the ice on sunward-facing cliffs, hollowing them out and eventually causing them to collapse in icy rubble. Solar heating can also warm the ice that’s beneath […]

Latest Research Reveals a Bizarre and Vibrant Rosetta’s Comet

We’ve subsisted for months on morsels of information coming from ESA’s mission to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Now, a series of scientific papers in journal Science offers a much more complete, if preliminary, look at Rosetta’s comet. And what a wonderful and complex world it is.(…)Read the rest of Latest Research Reveals a Bizarre and Vibrant Rosetta’s Comet (1,696 words) © Bob […]

There’s a crack forming on Rosetta’s 67P. Is it breaking up?

Not all comets breakup as they vent and age, but for Rosetta’s comet 67P, the Rubber Duckie comet, a crack in the neck raises concerns. Some comets may just fizzle and uniformly expel their volatiles throughout their surfaces. They may become like puffballs, shrink some but remain intact. Comet 67P is the other extreme. The expulsion of […]

Look Out Below! Rosetta Will Give Its Comet A Close Buzz In February

Remember how breathless we felt when the Philae lander actually made it to the surface of its target comet a few weeks ago? Sure, the maneuvers didn’t go as planned, but the images the spacecraft obtained in its brief spurts of activity on the surface are still being shared and discussed eagerly by scientists (amid […]

Rosetta’s Instruments Direct Scientists to Look Elsewhere for the Source of Earth’s Water

Where did all of our water come from? What might seem like a simple question has challenged and intrigued planetary scientists for decades. So results just released by Rosetta mission scientists have been much anticipated and the observations of the Rosetta spacecraft instruments are telling us to look elsewhere. The water of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko does […]

Philae Lander Early Science Results: Ice, Organic Molecules and Half a Foot of Dust

An uncontrolled, chaotic landing.  Stuck in the shadow of a cliff without energy-giving sunlight.  Philae and team persevered.  With just 60 hours of battery power, the lander drilled, hammered and gathered science data on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko before going into hibernation. Here’s what we know. (…)Read the rest of Philae Lander Early Science Results: Ice, […]

Alone and Confused, Philae Breaks our Hearts

I was thirteen years old when Columbia disintegrated. Space exploration was not even a particular interest of mine at the time, but I remember exactly where I was when the news came.  My dad and I were sitting in the living room of my childhood home, listening to NPR. I don’t really recall how I […]