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How Big Is That Comet We Just Landed On? Here Are Some Sci-Fi Comparisons

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Comet 67PYesterday humanity made history by successfully landing a spacecraft on a comet for the first time ever, thus bringing the scenario from Armageddon one step closer to becoming a reality. The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission, which has been going on for the better part of a decade now, approached Comet 67P and unleashed its Philae lander, which touched down and started transmitting information back to Earth. It’s a momentous occasion for the species, and this ball of rock and ice hurtling through space is now the seventh heavenly body we’ve touched. We know this is a big form flying around out there, but it all sounds so abstract and can be hard to visualize. Fortunately for us, some folks out there have taken it upon themselves to put Comet 67P into a context we, as science fiction fans, can wrap our heads around.

Over at Nerdist, they took dimensions of the comet and compared it to the specs of various elements of popular science fiction, which, again, gives those of us familiar with such things a new way to think about this that makes sense to our pop culture addled brains. For instance, if you ask yourself, well, how does this compare to a Galaxy Class Starship from Star Trek? This handy image shows you just how it compares. It’s also much bigger than Deep Space 9, but is roughly equivalent to both the Borg Cube and a Federation Space Dock. So now you can picture just how big this thing is.

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Rosetta To Attempt First Ever Comet Landing This Week, Get The Details Here

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philae landerTen years ago, the European Space Agency (ESA) launched the Rosetta probe, and earlier this year it caught up with Comet 69P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. On Wednesday, Rosetta will release its Philae lander, which will then attempt the first-ever landing on a comet.

Humans haven’t landed probes or rovers on very many planetary bodies. We’ve set crafts down on the moon, Mars, Venus, Titan, and on two asteroids, but that’s in. This comet will be the seventh, and landing on a comet is no easy feat. Right now, Comet 69P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is moving pretty darn fast—forty times faster than a bullet. It’s also spinning and ejecting gas. That makes it a potentially tougher object to land on than Mars, and even then, Curiosity’s nail-biting landing two years ago was a close call.

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Leave Your Permanent Mark On Space By Naming This Historic Site

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RosettaHave you always wanted to leave your mark on outer space but didn’t know how? If you’re anything like us, you spend a lot of time in a dark room (it’s like we live in caves scattered around the country), scouring the Internet, and are hardly any kind of astronaut material (I shudder to think what astronaut training would do to my questionably shaped body, I imagine I would wind up looking like Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd in Spies Like Us). But now none of that matters, and you can help named the landing site for the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission. But you better hurry, because the competition ends today.

The Philae lander is scheduled to set down on Comet 69P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in the middle of next month on November 12. This will mark the first soft landing on a comet ever by a manmade object, which is pretty memorable, and will, inevitably, lead to more and more Armageddon style adventures in real life. Right now the location is designated Site J, which is hardly befitting of such a momentous occurrence, so ESA and their mission partners want your help in coming up with a better moniker.

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Rosetta Spacecraft Sends Back Stunning Close-Up Photos Of A Comet

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RosettaYou don’t hear the phrase “scientific Disneyland” all that often, at least not in my line of work, but that is how one observer described the new close-up photos of a comet that just arrived courtesy of Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft.

Rosetta, launched in 2004, recently arrived at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which is a mouthful—I bet his friends just call him 67P—and almost immediately started sending back incredible pictures. This is a meeting that was more than a decade in the making. Taken at a distance f roughly 81 miles away, the photos show off what scientists are calling the “neck,” “head,” “body,” and “head of the dirty snowball” of the deep space projectile, all in incredible detail.

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ESA’s Cosmic Vision Includes New Planet-Hunting Mission

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PLATO

NASA likes to boast about its planet-hunting capabilities thanks to both the Kepler and the Hubble telescopes. But NASA’s not the only organization looking to identify new planets in the cosmos. The European Space Agency (ESA) conducts its own searches from across the pond, and they recently selected the PLATO (Planetary Transits and Oscillations of stars) mission to join its 10-year Cosmic Vision programme.

In broad terms, the Cosmic Vision programme strives to push the foundation it has built in space science into a more contemporary, forward-thinking realm by foreseeing and addressing the challenges of the future. The overarching goals of the programme include identifying scientific challenges, prioritizing space research, figuring how how to marshal resources to achieve the maximum return on investment, maintaining Europe’s competitive technological status, and reinforcing ESA’s ability to advance space science.

PLATO, a space-based observatory, addresses these goals by focusing on the conditions necessary for planetary formation (link?) as well as how the Solar System formed, functions, and compares to other systems. Its particular specialty is identify Sun-Earth analogue systems using 34 distinct telescopes and cameras, PLATO will search for planets the same way Kepler does–by monitoring roughly a million stars and looking for the small but consistent reductions in brightness that signify a planet passing in front of them.

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ESA’s Comet-Chasing Spacecraft Rosetta Scheduled To Wake Up Today

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Is 31 months enough sleep for a spacecraft? Or might it be too much?

The Chinese Yutu rover recently woke up from a two-week power-conserving sleep, but ESA’s Rosetta has been snoozing for a lot longer. If you’re a big geek like me, you’ll be checking the ESA’s livestream and Twitter feed throughout the course of the day to check on Rosetta’s status. There’s also a live blog on The Guardian’s website. It was supposed to rise and shine at 10:00 a.m. GMT, but we won’t have official word about whether that happened as scheduled until later this afternoon.

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