Pareidolia: Seeing Faces in Unusual Places. How about a comet? Do you see the face in this photo of Comet C-G? All joking aside, this is an unprecedented close view of a comet.
The NY Times says, “After 10 years and a journey of four billion miles, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft arrived at its destination on Wednesday, August 6, 2014, for the first extended, close examination of a comet.
Over the coming months, Rosetta and its comet, called C-G for short, will plunge together toward the sun.
On November 12, a small 220-pound lander allegedly left the spacecraft and set down on the comet – the first time a spacecraft landed on a comet.
The European Space Agency released the first image taken by a craft from the surface of the comet. Gautam Naik explains the significance of the findings and photos. Photo: ESA
The comet and its shadowing spacecraft are more than 330 million miles from the sun (more than three times as far out as Earth), traveling at 35,000 miles per hour. With the final firing of the thruster, Rosetta was a mere 60 miles from the comet’s surface.
Launched in March 2004, Rosetta — a boxy structure roughly nine by seven feet, powered by two 47-foot-long solar panels — followed a circuitous route through the solar system, using flybys of the Earth and Mars to fling itself into the same orbital path as Comet C-G…
C-G is one of the nearer comets: Its orbit extends not far beyond Jupiter. Scientists should now be able to get a better idea of its composition by measuring temperatures at its surface and a few inches below, and in the gases streaming off the comet, along with the weight of water molecules streaming off it.
Much of the work in the next three months is to find a safe place for the lander, Philae, to set down. Once released from Rosetta, the lander will be pulled down by the comet’s gravity and will strike its surface at a couple of miles per hour, like someone walking into a wall. “It’s hurting, but it doesn’t kill you,” said Stephan Ulamec, head of the consortium that built the lander.”
Dozens of tiny, sungrazing comets are expected to return to tightly orbit the Sun in 2014 or end their lives in its corona. These comets will probably only be observable from space observatories like SOHO and LASCO. The general public can comb through movies and images captured by SOHO, attempting to discover comets in 2014.
There is currently a 1 and 120,000 chance that Comet Siding Spring (C/2013 A1) will hit Mars on October 19, 2014. Based on Leonid Elenin’s recent observations, Comet Siding Spring will pass 0.000276 AU (41,300 km, 25,700 miles) from the surface of Mars. For comparison, the average distance between the Earth and Moon is .00257 AU (384,400 km, 238,900 miles). On October 27, 2060 Comet Finlay will pass 0.048 AU from Earth (JPL, 2014). That’s the equivalent of 4,500,000 miles or 7,200,000 kilometers. For reference, the average distance between Earth and the Moon is 0.002 AU.
Through the magic of the internet, you can now see QuickMap as it follows along the satellite missions of the moon, mars and mercury – go to http://messenger-act.actgate.com/quickmap/satview/#
Sending Healing, Wisdom Understanding and Abundance. Cariel