Rosetta Shows That Earth’s Water Didn’t Come From Comets

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RosettaOne of the reasons the ESA launched the Rosetta spacecraft, which sent the Philae lander down to the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko last month, was to study the composition of the comet. They are the oldest celestial bodies, so they contain chemical clues to how the Solar System formed, and perhaps how life arrived on our planet. Like asteroids, comets are also known to contain water, and scientists have theorized that just as life may have hitched a ride to Earth aboard one, perhaps water did too. But some of Rosetta’s early findings challenge that idea.

As you know, water contains two hydrogen atoms and oxygen atom, H20. But according to data recently published in Science, water from Comet 67P has three times more deuterium than normal, or more accurately, than terrestrial water molecules. Deuterium is a heavy isotope of hydrogen, and is a common element on Mars (and not so much on Earth). On our planet, roughly .0003% of water molecules contain deuterium.


Check Out These Incredible Images Of A Comet’s Surface

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Comet 67PThe Philae lander, which made history last week by becoming the first man made object to set down on a comet (now the seventh celestial body humankind has touched), may have just gone into sleep mode for an indeterminate amount of time, but that doesn’t mean the mission was a wash. Even before launching the lander, the Rosetta probe was broadcast images back to Earth, and now the European Space Agency (ESA) has released some of these, and they’re stunning.

In the weeks leading up to unleashing Philae, Rosetta maintained an orbit around Comet 69P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. While that is a rather impressive feat on its own, it was able to send back a number of images of the surface, giving us our best look ever at what a comet looks like on the ground level. The pictures show a rocky, craggy landscape that looks barren and desolate, but also beautiful in high contrast black and white.


ESA Loses Contact With Philae, Get The Details Here

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PhilaeThe Philae lander, which made history last week when it became the first craft to touch down on a comet, has gone to sleep. Now, we just have to hope it wakes up.

Philae’s harpoons didn’t deploy during its landing on Wednesday, so it never got properly anchored into the comet. It bounced a few times and eventually landed in a spot under an outcropping of rock, almost entirely in shadow. The solar-powered batteries need 6-7 hours of sunlight a day in order to continue functioning, but only got about 90-minutes, and what scientists feared would happen did. Early on Saturday morning, the European Space Agency (ESA) lost contact with the lander.


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.


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.


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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