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So Close and Yet So Far: Why isn't Siding Spring going to sandblast Mars?

Tony Farnham • September 09, 2014

Comet Siding Spring is going to make a very close approach to Mars in October. Any comet dust that reaches Mars has the potential to inflict significant damage on the spacecraft orbiting the planet. As it turns out, however, Mars and its orbiters are likely to see very few, if any, impacts. Why?

Latest Rosetta NavCam images reveal jets on Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Emily Lakdawalla • September 04, 2014

ESA released another set of NavCam images of the comet today, and lo and behold, there are jets! We knew they were there, from an earlier OSIRIS image, but it's tremendously cool to see the comet behaving like a proper comet should.

ESA invites amateurs to produce portraits of comet 67P

Emily Lakdawalla • September 01, 2014

After a pause of about a week in daily image releases from Rosetta, ESA has begun sharing four-image sets of photos of comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko and invited the public to help produce pretty pictures from them.

The Pivotal Discovery You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Karl Battams • August 29, 2014

Karl Battams highlights the historic discovery, by an Air Force satellite, of a sungrazing comet.

Rosetta identifies five possible landing sites for Philae

Emily Lakdawalla • August 26, 2014

The Rosetta team has announced the selection of five regions on Churyumov-Gerasimenko that they will study as possible landing sites for little Philae. Now, as Rosetta surveys the comet from its second triangular "orbit" at an average distance of 60 kilometers, the mission will target these spots for extra attention.

Philae landing site selection process under way as Rosetta closes to within 60 kilometers of the comet

Emily Lakdawalla • August 22, 2014

Rosetta spent the week transitioning to a lower orbit from which it continues to observe the comet. This weekend, the mission will select about five landing sites for more detailed study. They have also now estimated the mass of the comet.

Comet Flyby Missions for Mars Rovers

Mark Lemmon • August 21, 2014

On October 19, the Mars rovers — like their orbiting cousins — will become comet flyby missions. Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) will pass within 140,000 km of Mars.

Finding my way around comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Emily Lakdawalla • August 15, 2014

Rosetta has nearly completed its first funky three-cornered orbit in front of the comet. Each day we're getting views of the nucleus from more directions. I step you through Churyumov-Gerasimenko's geography.

Mars orbiters plan for their October encounter with comet Siding Spring

Emily Lakdawalla • August 13, 2014

Now that we have reasonable confidence that our Mars orbiters will be safe from the close passage of comet Siding Spring, we are free to be excited about the opportunity that the encounter represents. At a community workshop on August 11, representatives from Mars missions shared their plans for great comet science.

Comet Siding Spring: Risk Assessment

Karl Battams • August 07, 2014

On October 19, 2014, Comet Siding Spring is going to have an extremely close encounter with the planet Mars. The bottom line: it seems most likely that our Martian spacecraft will be absolutely fine.

The Planetary Society Applauds ESA for Rosetta's Successful Comet Rendezvous

Jennifer Vaughn • August 06, 2014

The Planetary Society congratulates the European Space Agency on its Rosetta spacecraft arriving at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta is the first spacecraft to orbit a comet.

Rendezvous with a crazy world

Daniel Fischer • August 06, 2014

Beaming scientists all around, spectacular images on large TV screens, and the best - or at least most exciting - yet to come: such was the extraordinary scene at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, today as the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft reached its cometary destination.

"We're at the comet!" Rosetta has arrived at comet 67P

Emily Lakdawalla • August 06, 2014

After a journey of more than a decade, Rosetta has finally arrived at comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Confirmation of the successful rocket firing came at about 9:30 UTC via a webcast from ESA's Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany.

Today's the day Rosetta arrives at a comet!

Emily Lakdawalla • August 05, 2014

In less than a day, Rosetta will officially arrive, becoming the first spacecraft ever to orbit a comet! Watch an ESA Livestream of the arrival, and check out the latest photos.

A new angle on Churyumov-Gerasimenko brings circular features into focus

Emily Lakdawalla • August 04, 2014

It's just two days now until Rosetta arrives in its initial 100-kilometer "orbit" of comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and the latest view from Rosetta's NavCam is fascinating. Circular features on the comet remind me of Tempel 1 as seen by Deep Impact and Stardust.

[UPDATED] New Rosetta images show comet's craggy shape

Emily Lakdawalla • August 02, 2014

A shift in position has brought shadows into view from Rosetta, outlining scarps and ridges on Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

New Rosetta view of the comet - and a comparison to other comets

Emily Lakdawalla • July 31, 2014

Rosetta's view of the comet is getting better and better. Today they released a new image from the high-resolution OSIRIS camera, and it's a very fresh one, taken only two days ago. Distinct features are coming into view. And it's finally detailed enough for me to compare it to the five other comets we've visited in the past.

Rosetta update: Long journey to a comet nearly complete

Emily Lakdawalla • July 29, 2014

A journey of nearly a decade is almost over. Rosetta is making its final approach to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and the comet's strange shape is beginning to come into focus. As of today, the spacecraft is only 2000 kilometers away from the comet, and 8 days away from arrival.

A right old comet kerfuffle…

Stuart Atkinson • July 18, 2014

A European space enthusiast, children's author, and volunteer astronomy outreach worker asks for more images from Rosetta.

Quick Rosetta update: Churyumov-Gerasimenko is a contact binary!

Emily Lakdawalla • July 15, 2014

I could not wait to post these amazing new images of comet Churymov-Gerasimenko from Rosetta. The nucleus of the comet is clearly a contact binary -- two smaller (and unequally sized object) in close contact.

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