Space Probes

Six of the icy areas on the surface of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko found by the Rosetta space probe (Image ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

The OSIRIS (Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System) camera on ESA’s space probe Rosetta allowed to identify 120 icy areas on the surface of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. A study of the presence of ice has just been published in the journal “Astronomy & Astrophysics”. That presence was well known but Rosetta’s observations allowed to understand the phases of transformation into gas, how much of it forms the comet’s coma and tail and what falls back to the surface.

Picture of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken by the Rosetta space probe on May 20, 2015 that shows gas jets coming from its nucleus (Photo ESA/Rosetta/NavCam)

The journal “Astronomy and Astrophysics” will publish an article that illustrates a discovery about the atmosphere of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko generated by the sublimation of the ice it contains. Water, but also carbon dioxide, are turned into steam but thanks to the instrument Alice of the space probe Rosetta it was possible to discover that these molecules get broken and that this happens in two stages.

Image of the dwarf planet Ceres and one of a region of its surface in details (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

In recent days, NASA’s space probe Dawn approached the dwarf planet Ceres and took a number close-up pictures of its surface. The latest images published by NASA were taken navigation purposes but start showing details of the geological elements, in particular the many craters of varying sizes. They make Ceres look like the Moon and show a story full of impacts.

Artistic concept of the space probe that will study Europa and its trajectory in the Jupiter's system (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA announced the nine instruments selected for the space probe that will explore Europa, a large Jupiter’s moon. The interest in a mission of this type has grown over the years, since the Galileo space probe found evidence of the existence of Europa’s subsurface ocean. The new mission will try to determine whether that ocean contains life forms.

Photo of the balancing rocks taken by the Rosetta space probe's OSIRIS camera on September 16, 2014 (Image ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

The scientists of the Rosetta space probe’s OSIRIS camera’s team discovered a curious rock formation in the region called Aker of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. They look like the balancing rocks existing in various places on Earth and precisely these are three rocks that seem to have very little contact with the comet’s surface.