comet

comet science rosetta space - 8190017792
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Esa's Rosetta mission is currently making its way towards a comet in the solar system. And, in a series of stunning new images, it reveals how comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has begun to develop into an exciting ball of dust and gas. Over a period of six weeks the comet has begun to extend its dusty veil known as a 'coma' into space.
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History was made Wednesday when the European Space Agency successfully landed a spacecraft on a comet for the first time ever.

"We are the first to do this - and that [achievement] will stay forever." said Jean Jacques Dordain, Director General of ESA.



The comet, 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, orbits, the sun every 6.45 years. It is 2.1 miles wide by 2.4 miles long.

Rosetta first launched in 2004 to research the comet, and it didn't arrived at its destination until this past August. On Wednesday morning, Philae first separated from the probe to attempt a landing.

Researchers are hoping to learn more about the origins of the solar system and whether or not comets could have brought water and life to Earth. Watch an ESA animated explanation of Rosetta's journey to the comet and it's surface mission below.

comet Astronomy science space - 8278467840
Via Slate
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Yesterday, when the Rosetta spacecraft was a mere 234 kilometers (145 miles) from the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (or just ChuGer) it took this amazing image with its navigational camera...

Mind you, the main OSIRIS camera has more resolution than the NAVCAM, so we'll be getting better pictures soon. And of course, Rosetta is still on the approach!


UPDATE: A second close up photograph:

comet lovejoy screams across the sky
Via Pri.org
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Via PRI:

Comet Lovejoy, a bright celestial ball of dust and ice probably born in the Oort Cloud, is currently traveling across the skies of the Northern Hemisphere. While photographer Gerald Rhemann snagged a shot of Lovejoy on December 22 (from the Southern Hemisphere), casual observers in the top half of the world might be able to enjoy the show into February.

"Comets this bright [appear only] every few years, on average," says Matthew Knight, a research scientist who studies comets at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. Indeed, some viewers with keen sight might be able to spy it with the naked eye from a location far from urban lights— think the Arizona desert or Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
comet Astronomy Mars science - 7185965056
Via Discovery
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Presently, astronomers only have a short period of observations to forecast the comet's path through the inner solar system and they know the probability of Mars "taking one for the celestial team" on Oct. 19, 2014, is small — in all likelihood the comet will fly by, creating a wonderful astronomical event for Earth and Mars-based observers alike.
philea comet Astronomy science space - 8377933824
Via NASA
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Via NASA:

The Rosetta Mission lander is safely on a comet. One of Philae's feet appears at the bottom left of this spectacular image of the surface of C67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Still a happy lander, Philae bounced twice before settling and returning images from the surface, traveling a kilometer or so after initially touching at the targeted site Agilkia. A surface panorama suggests that the lander has come to rest tilted and near a shadowing wall, with its solar panels getting less illumination that hoped. Philae's science instruments are working as planned and data is being relayed during communications windows, when the Rosetta spacecraft is above the lander's new horizon.
comet lovejoy has a complex tail
Via NASA
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Via NASA:

What causes the structure in Comet Lovejoy's tail? Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy), which is currently at naked-eye brightness and near its brightest, has been showing an exquisitely detailed ion tail. As the name implies, the ion tail is made of ionized gas -- gas energized by ultraviolet light from the Sun and pushed outward by the solar wind. The solar wind is quite structured and sculpted by the Sun's complex and ever changing magnetic field. The effect of the variable solar wind combined with different gas jets venting from the comet's nucleus accounts for the tail's complex structure. Following the wind, structure in Comet Lovejoy's tail can be seen to move outward from the Sun even alter its wavy appearance over time. The blue color of the ion tail is dominated by recombining carbon monoxide molecules, while the green color of the coma surrounding the head of the comet is created mostly by a slight amount of recombiningdiatomic carbon molecules.
awesome comet Astronomy science space - 8411175168
Via NASA
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Via NASA:

Comet Lovejoy, C/2014 Q2, is framed like a cosmic Christmas tree with starry decorations in this colorful telescopic portrait, snapped on December 16th. Its lovely coma is tinted green by diatomic C2 gas fluorescing in sunlight. Discovered in August of this year, this Comet Lovejoy is currently sweeping north through the constellation Columba, heading for Lepus south of Orion and bright enough to offer good binocular views. Not its first time through the inner Solar System, this Comet Lovejoy will pass closest to planet Earth on January 7,