By now you’ve no doubt heard of the Philae lander’s mostly successful landing on the comet known as Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. This is the first time this has ever been done, and it’s both very cool and very significant.
The Rosetta probe launched by the ESA spent hundreds of days sleeping and zipping through space to reach its comet destination known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Among the instruments on the probe are some spectrometers that have been working hard to figure out what sort of molecules are wafting off the comet into space.
Way back in 2004, the European Space Agency launched a spacecraft called Rosetta on a mission to enter orbit around a comet and send a lander to its surface. The comet is called 67P/CG, and after ten years in transit, Rosetta has finally reached the comet and is now preparing to enter orbit.
It’s been a while since we talked about the comet ISON. We mentioned back in January that if the comet survives its brush with the sun later this month, it could be the brightest comet seen in hundreds of years.
This story proves that sometimes even really smart people get things horribly wrong. For the last 30 years, astronomers have believed that a massive object known as Don Quixote was a near-Earth asteroid. In fact, the object was classified as the third largest near-Earth asteroid.
One of the most impressive things that happened to Jupiter in recorded history was when the planet was pummeled by chunks of the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet. The thing with Jupiter is that it has an incredibly thick atmosphere so all we could really see of those impacts were disturbances in the clouds near the top of the planet’s atmosphere.
Comets are cool, both literally and figuratively. They are generally made of frozen gases and other stuff. I can remember years and years ago when a particularly bright one was in the sky, and looking at it each morning on the way to work.
Those cats over at NASA come up with some wild ideas from time to time and one of their latest ideas may well be the strangest I have seen in a while. NASA has devised a plan to harpoon a comet as it streaks by.