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Posts Tagged "comets"

Life, Unbounded

Comet 67P Only Looks Gray, It’s Actually Black

Comet 67P in all its colourful glory (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission has now released the first narrow-angle color composite image of Comet 67P – taken through a set of red, green, and blue filters. And here it is, in all its glory from a mere 120 kilometers away, with a roughly 3.9 meter per pixel resolution. You might be forgiven [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Summer Astrobiology Roundup #2: Possible ‘Comet Of The Century’ Starts Warming Up

Enhanced Hubble Telescope image of ISON from April 2013, showing a dusty tail and some evidence of volatile sublimation around the nucleus (NASA, ESA)

Back in February these pages discussed a newly discovered long-period comet, ISON (otherwise known as C/2012 s1), that is falling sunwards for what is probably its first passage through the inner solar system later this year – on a beautiful near parabolic orbit. At its closest point it will pass a mere 700,000 miles from [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Astrobiology Roundup

The Ghost of Astrobiology Past

The range of topics relevant to astrobiology is pretty staggering – from microbial populations, chemistry, geo-chemistry, geobiology, climate, non-linear systems, solar system exploration, robotics, planetary science, exoplanets, astrophysics, and even cosmology. I often call astrobiology an ‘inter-discipline‘, since so much of it is about the connecting threads, the metaphorical synapses between highly specialized areas of [...]

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Observations

Rosetta Pours Cold Water on Cometary Origins of Earth’s Oceans

A comet jets water and other volatiles into space

In the Enuma Elish, a Babylonian epic that recounts the creation of the world, the heavens and the Earth emerge from a primordial abyss of brackish water. According to the biblical book of Genesis, water existed before land, life, and even light itself. Our ancient ancestors realized, just as we do today, that water is [...]

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Observations

NASA’s Stardust spacecraft closes in for a Valentine’s Day rendezvous with Comet Tempel 1

Comet Tempel 1 as seen from NASA

Some 340 million kilometers away, out beyond the orbit of Mars, the Stardust spacecraft is getting ready for a big Valentine’s Day date. On February 14 the NASA craft will fly past Comet Tempel 1 at a planned distance of only 200 kilometers, getting a good look at the second comet it has investigated at [...]

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Observations

Get a glimpse of Comet Hartley 2 less than two weeks before NASA probe’s flyby

Comet Hartley 2 from the EPOXI spacecraft

NASA’s EPOXI spacecraft is closing in on a comet called Hartley 2 in advance of a November 4 flyby, but stargazers on Earth are already getting a fairly good look at the icy object, which is currently in the midst of an unusually close passage of Earth. Hartley 2 is now only about 18 million [...]

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Observations

A star buzzing through the outer solar system? Bring it on

Giant impact

A Russian astronomer turned a few heads earlier this month when he published a paper noting that a dwarf star, currently 63 light-years away, will very likely dip into the outer edge of our solar system in fewer than two million years. Vadim Bobylev of the Pulkovo Observatory in Russia presented in the March issue [...]

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