Rosetta-Comet Will Wake Up Early

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AstroNews

Two months after ESA’s space probe Rosetta starts its approach towards Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the comet will show activity. This is earlier than expected.

On its way towards the Sun comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, next year’s destination of ESA’s spacecraft Rosetta, will start emitting gas and dust earlier than previously expected. The comet’s activity should be measurable from Earth by March 2014. This is one of the results of a new study performed by a group of researchers under the lead of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany. The scientists analyzed numerous images from the comet’s past three orbits around the Sun, obtained with ground based telescopes. For the first time, they were able to reconstruct the comet’s activity in all phases of its orbit.

A comet spends the main part of its existence far from the Sun as an unchanged lump of ice and rock. When it approaches…

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