Sunday, January 15, 2006

ESA Rosetta Mission To Unlock Comet Secrets Too

Since 2004, the Rosetta spacecraft has been hurtling toward its rendezvous with Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014 where it will deliver a lander named Philae to the surface of the hurtling object and conduct "in-situ" studies of its various components.

Originally meant to be a "comet chaser"the initial ESA mission was scrubbed and replaced with the above-mentioned rendezvous. The spacecraft will also pass within close range of two well-known asteroids, Steins and Lutetia, taking about 12 years to reach its target and performing in-orbit maneuvers and studies for 17 months.
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is a dirty-snowball about 2 miles wide and 3 miles long that orbits the Sun every 6.6 years. Scientists believe it has changed very little since forming because until being recently tugged closer by Jupiter's gravity, it orbited much farther from the Sun where it would have melted very little.

Comets likely hold the keys to unlocking the mysteries of the formation of our Solar System. And it's also likely they hold more mysteries too...

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