Landing on a Comet
Philae lander "selfie" courtesy NASA/ESA
 
Comets are mysterious objects of astronomical wonder, despite humanity's focused attentions to them throughout millennia. While we can see their gorgeous tails and coma, their nuclei are cloaked by clouds of particles and ice kicked up by violent jets of gas, making observations into the hearts of comets frustrating, fleeting, and blurry at best.

However, that is all about to change. ESA's Rosetta probe sent a small lander, Philae, down to the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, making history as the first spacecraft to safely land on a comet. What will we discover?

You can follow the discoveries the Rosetta mission makes at Comet 67P/C-G by checking out their official blog, as well as their official ESA page. The ESA has many additional resources and background on the mission. 

NASA and JPL also have their own Rosetta page, with a countdown to the landing as well as many links to social livestreams of important events. 

This Night Sky Network also has resources to help in understanding comets and the role smaller bodies play in our solar system. You can "Cook Up a Comet," one of our favorite activities, by following the instructions here: http://bit.ly/cometchef 

You can also learn more about asteroids and comets by reading our International Year of Astronomy Discovery Guide on Rocks and Ice in the Solar System here:  http://bit.ly/iyacomets
 
Image of Philae's landing site, courtesy ESA
Agilkia, Philae's landing site on Comet 67P/C-G.
Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
More information on the Rosetta Blog.


 

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