Rosetta continues to learn more about Comet 67 and even with a defunct lander – scientists and astronomers are learning more than ever about what comets look like up close.
Rosetta has been taking an incredibly close look at Comet 67-P and gathering information that no astronomer or scientist has had before. Dennis Bodewits, of the University of Maryland, who studies comets called it “tremendous,” and that it is “completely changing what we know about comets.” At the end of the day, it isn’t just scientists and astronomers who are in awe of the fact that we are successfully orbiting a comet as it flies closer and closer to the sun. The amount of detail that is revealed from traveling near the comet at this point in space is something that just a few years ago might have been reserved for a Sci-Fi movie. Instead, we have made it a complete reality.
It’s interesting for a number of reasons, plenty of which are far beyond the simple constraints of a comet. Comets and asteroids are the remains or leftovers of planets, from their original build. The chunks of rock that are floating around as asteroids or comets – are roughly 4.5 billion years old, and it speaks to just how important these pieces are. They can’t just give us additional information regarding the way a comet functions, or is built – but also tells us more about the development of planets – and even our solar system as a whole.
Combine this with the fact that asteroids and comets have long been considered one of the keys in the addition of water to a planet like Earth – where water and other organic compounds are found. Ultimately, some of the most-complex features on Earth, some of those most-vital compounds that exist here on Earth today, and make life possible as we know it today. Rosetta used its OSIRIS camera to take some of the largest, and widest images that had ever been taken of a comet. The results yielded surface features and physical elements of the comet that were entirely new to the team, as well as the rest of the science community.
Some of those features include massive cliffs, large flat plain regions, some sections that actually look quite brittle, as well as regions that look like they would completely collapse. Now, little is actually known about what that structure system looks like on the comet itself, but it raises new questions and gives scientists a new opportunity to take a better look and gain a better understanding of what a comet really is.