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Posts Tagged "comet"

Life, Unbounded

That Comet? That’s You, 4.5 Billion Years Ago

The surface of a comet, with one of Philae's landing feet (Credit ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA)

As the European Space Agency’s Philae lander bounced and settled onto the surface of comet 67P/C-G’s crumbly nucleus it wasn’t just space exploration, it was time travel. This stupendous feat of spacecraft design and operation has brought us to a place little changed from its original state, a condensation and agglomeration of one small part [...]

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Life, Unbounded

The Surreal Task of Landing on a Comet

The top of the 'duck's head' where Philae will attempt to land (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM)

On November 12th 2014 the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission will eject the small robotic lander Philae on a trajectory that should take it down to the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (or 67P/C-P for short). Already Rosetta is maneuvering from its 10 kilometer orbit to get into the right place to deploy Philae. The landing [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Astrobiology Roundup: Planets, Moons, and Stinky Comets

707154main_astrobiology

Scientific discoveries across all fields just keep coming and coming. Here’s a small assortment of goodies from the past couple of weeks. How do you form planets around stars in triple systems? You feed them of course. New data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in northern Chile has probed the gas and [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Summer Shorts: A Cometary Rubber Duck

Rosetta images of comet nucleus (ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team)

It’s summer in the northern hemisphere of a small, damp, planet orbiting a middle-aged star in a spiral galaxy of matter enjoying a brief heyday before colliding with another galaxy in some 4 billion orbits of the same small, damp, planet. Time for some brief stories.   ESA’s Rosetta mission, reported on in an earlier [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Sneaking up on a Sweaty Comet

(ESA)

Over the coming month the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta mission will fire its main engines no less than eight times to tweak its interplanetary intercept course with Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko; eventually sidling up to the 4 kilometer wide cometary nucleus at about 7.9 meters per second in early August. At that point, with some gentler [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Will This Be The Comet Of The Century?

Great Comet of 1680 (Painting by: Lieve Verschuier)

NASA’s Deep Impact probe has captured images of Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON), as it moves past the orbital distance of Jupiter on what may be its first trip inwards to the Sun, and possibly a spectacular show. Comets are notoriously fickle beasts. Chunks of primordial rock, dust, and volatile ices that formed some 4.5 billion [...]

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Observations

Naked-Eye Comet Pan-STARRS Climbing into Northern Skies

Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4)

This year is shaping up to be a great one for amateur sky-watchers. Toward the end of 2013, astronomers expect the recently discovered Comet ISON (officially designated C/2012 S1) to shine mightily as it approaches the sun—possibly glowing as bright as the full moon. (Comets are unpredictable beasts, though, and often fail to meet the [...]

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Observations

Bay Area Fireball Caught on Tape [Video]

Just before 7:45 P.M. Pacific time yesterday, as baseball fans in the San Francisco Bay Area were tuning in to the playoff game between the hometown Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals, a different spectacle was playing out overhead. A huge fireball lit up the skies over Northern California, and witnesses also heard very loud [...]

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Observations

“Once in a Civilization” Comet to Zip past Earth Next Year

Comet Hartley 2

As it flares out of the distant Oort Cloud, the newly discovered comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) appears to be heading on a trajectory that could make for one of the most spectacular night-sky events in living memory. Why is this comet expected to be so unique? Two reasons: Astronomers predict that the comet will pass [...]

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