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.
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.
Rosetta images of comet nucleus from 3,400 kilometers away (ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team)
ESA's Rosetta mission, reported on in an earlier post, has got close enough to its cometary quarry to discover that 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko is not as simple as anyone thought - it's a double nucleus, a giant rubber duck of a thing. Here's a timelapse (below) of 36 images taken by Rosetta from a distance of approximately 7,500 kilometers, each separated by 20 minutes, and heavily interpolated. A brighter 'ring' of material seems to exist at the apparent neck joining these sub-nuclei (see the above image too). The big question now is where and how will the lander Philae try to set down?
(ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team)
The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Caleb A. Scharf
Dr. Caleb A. Scharf is Director of Astrobiology at Columbia University,and has an international reputation as a research astrophysicist, and asa lecturer to college and public audiences. The UK's Guardian newspaperhas listed his blog Life, Unbounded, as one of their "hottest scienceblogs," while an editor at Seed Magazine called it "phenomenal.Informed, fresh, and thoughtful." Scharf is author and co-author of morethan 100 scientific research articles in astronomy and astrophysics. Hiswork has been featured in publications such as New Scientist, ScientificAmerican, Science News, Cosmos Magazine, Physics Today, and NationalGeographic, as well as online at sites like Space.com and Physorg.com.His textbook for undergraduate and graduate students, Extrasolar Planetsand Astrobiology, won the 2012 Chambliss Prize of the AAS. Hisarticles and reviews have appeared in such prestigious publications asScience, Nature, The Astrophysical Journal, and Monthly Notices of theRoyal Astronomical Society.Dr. Scharf is a regular keynote speaker at academic meetings, such asfor the American Physical Society, museums, and both public and privatevenues, including the American Museum of Natural History, the RubinMuseum of Art in New York. He has been a guest on Krulwich on Science atNPR, William Shatner's "Weird or What?" and has served as a consultantto editors and producers at National Geographic Magazine, The ScienceChannel, The Discovery Channel, and The New York Times.