The world has gotten a better look at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko thanks to the European Space Agency’s Rosetta Probe.
The ESA is working on the precise dimensions of the comet which will take more time to gather. More data will be gathered as the comet gets closer to our Sun. In addition the ESA delivered a new OSIRIS shape model of 67P/C-G in .wrl and .obj formats to get other people to print their own 3D version of the comet.
The model will be incomplete however because the dark side of the comet still hasn’t been imaged completely. Around 30% of the comet remains unknown and scientists have to use their best guesses. The comet is 465 million kilometers from Earth.
The big fun begins on November 12 when the ESA is going to try to land its Philae craft onto the surface of the comet. This would put the icing on the cake of this 10 year mission.
Landing a probe onto a moving comet is some fine engineering and execution of the sciences involving space flight and more.
The comet’s other news is that it is spouting jets of water vapor. Scientists can’t figure out the exact location of the jets. From only about 16.3 miles, the spacecraft took the pictures. The gasses appear to be coming from within the comet the product of ice sublimating and escaping. The jets do appear to be centered in one location around the middle of the comet. Scientists theorize that the comet having traveled around the Sun many times may have lost far more ice than is being observed this time.
As will all comets that orbit closely to the Sun, this comet will produce more activity as it gets heated up and facing solar winds.
This is one of the fun space missions of the modern era. The reason being is that it has been somewhat open source and has taken 10 years to go through. Imaging the comet allows for fun in the way the ESA has just released 3D versions that should entertain the children and future scientists.
Even families and schools, science clubs, can enjoy following this mission and with the landing of the Rosetta onto the asteroid the adventure really looks like it’s going to be grand.