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European probe Rosetta and Comet 67P to approach Sun on August 13


Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko will reach its perihelion, its closest orbital point to sun on August 13th. Rosetta reached comet 67P on August 2014, 10 years after its launch, and is orbiting and studying the space rock.rosetta-comet-close-look

Rosetta has released a robotic field worker called Philae, which has discovered “primordial soup” on the comet, and it is settled there. Philae and Rosetta will collect data on the changes to 67P, but a connection has not been established between the two due to its lading location. As the comet moves closer to the sun, ice, dust and gas begin to erupt from the surface, creating a halo called as coma.

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“Perihelion is an important milestone in any comet’s calendar, and even more so for the Rosetta mission because this will be the first time a spacecraft has been following a comet from close quarters as it moves through this phase of its journey around the Solar System,” said Rosetta project scientist Matt Taylor.

This is the first time a spacecraft has been following a comet from close quarters as it moves through this phase of its journey, added Taylor. Recently, the European Space Agency (ESA) released images of 67P, captured by Rosetta,a bout 100 miles away. The images show “prominent jets of dust and gas streaming from the nucleus,” but the ESA says this also makes it harder to navigate Rosetta.

Mark McCaughrean, a senior scientist at ESA said that they will have to keep Rosetta relatively high above the comet, indicating that they will not be able to study the comet in detail. ESA hopes to land Rosetta on the planet to collect unique data from an unprecedentedly close distance. Rosetta mission manager Patrick Martin said they will have to observe the status of the spacecraft, after it reaches the perihelion. However, scientists acknowledge that it might not be possible to land the probe on the comet.

Rosetta has found that the duck-shaped comet has developed a 500-metre fracture, and is deepening as more material is released from its interiors. Experts studying the 67P expect the comet to split apart and capture the amazing moment in the solar system.

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