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Five Questions Scientists Hope Rosetta Answers About Comets

Comet 67P as seen from the ESA Rosetta spacecraft

By David Harker, Associate Research Scientist, UCSD Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences (CASS)

The primary mission of Rosetta's visit to comet 67P/Churymov–Gerasimenko is to further our understanding of the origin and evolution of our solar system. Comets can be thought of as time capsules since they formed within 100,000 years of the formation of the solar nebula, which is thought to be tens of millions of years older than the formation of the solar system 4.7 billion years ago.

Things You Might Have Missed About the Philae Landing on Comet 67P

Artist conception of the Philae lander

By David Harker, Associate Research Scientist, UCSD Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences (CASS)

On March 2, 2004, the European Space Agency (ESA) launched the Rosetta Mission. The goal for this mission was for the Rosetta spacecraft to rendezvous with comet 67P/Churymov–Gerasimenko, which was 280 million miles away from Earth. To put this into perspective, the Earth is about 93 million miles away from the Sun. So at the point of rendezvous, comet 67P was three times the distance away from the Earth as the Earth is from the Sun.

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