Rosetta’s Comet Looks Like a Giant Peep

Surprise!* Rosetta’s target comet 67P/C-G is apparently a contact binary, with a nucleus made of two objects joined at a point and held together by gravity based on the latest images in from the spacecraft. Tumbling through space on its orbit around the Sun, it bears an uncanny resemblance to… a giant marshmallow Peep. (The…

Wake Up, Rosetta!

It’s being called “the most important alarm clock in the solar system” —  tomorrow, Monday January 20, at 10:00 GMT (which is 5:00 a.m. for U.S. East Coasters like me) the wake-up call will ring for ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft, bringing it out of hibernation after over two and a half years in preparation of its…

Asteroid 2014 JO25 Gets Some Sweet Radar Love

This is our best look yet at asteroid 2014 JO25, which made its closest pass by Earth for at least the next 500 years on April 19, 2017. The animation above is composed of radar observations made from NASA’s Goldstone facility in California when the asteroid was between 1.53 and 1.61 million miles away. These…

Rolling Boulders on a Comet

See that big rock there? (It’s easy because there’s a big yellow arrow pointing to it.) That’s a 100-foot/30-meter wide boulder that was imaged sitting on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by ESA’s Rosetta on May 2, 2015. Nine months later Rosetta captured another image of the same area in which that huge stone had…

Comet 67P Confirmed To Be a Contact Binary

Ever since we got our first good look at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from the approaching Rosetta spacecraft in 2014 it has been considered to be a textbook example of a contact binary, with its “rubber duckie” double-lobed shape consisting of an oval “head” and flat-bottomed “body” joined by a “neck.’ Now, using data gathered by Rosetta’s…

No This Is Not an Alien Cave Crab on Mars

I’m in a debunking mood today, probably brought on by the seasonal “double Moon hoax” that raises its oh-so-wrong head every August. (Read more on that nonsense here.) So here’s one more thing to say “NO” to: giant alien cave crabs on Mars. Apparently there’d been some buzz recently in the “space woo” circles online…

PHA PSA: There’s No Need to Worry About Friday’s Asteroid Pass

It happens every time: an asteroid is slated to make a perfectly safe pass by Earth on its route around the Sun, like everyone else, but the tabloid “news” sites take the opportunity to start screaming bloody horror about the upcoming “near miss” and “terrified” NASA scientists etc. etc. It’s awfully tiring and even more predictable than…

No Signal Yet From Philae (But ESA Isn’t Giving Up)

The first attempt by ESA and Rosetta to hear back from Philae has turned up only radio silence – but that doesn’t necessarily mean the lander is on permanent shutdown. It may just be that it’s still too cold and dark where Philae is to have sufficiently warmed up its components for reactivation. “It was…

The Next Chapter of Philae’s Big Adventure is Here!

If you’ve been following the animated adventures of Rosetta and Philae from the European Space Agency you may have been wondering when the next episode of Philae’s big adventure would be coming. Well it’s here, and you can find out (again) what happened to the little lander on November 12, 2014 when it made its…

Comet 67P Fires Up Its Jets

And the show is on! The dramatic images above show the actively jetting comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Jan. 31 and Feb. 3, imaged by Rosetta’s NavCam from a distance of about 28 km (17 miles). Each is a mosaic of four separate NavCam acquisitions, and I adjusted and tinted them in Photoshop to further enhance the jets’ visibility….

A Glorious View of Comet 67P’s Jets

Dusty iceballs left over from the birth of the Solar System, comets are most famously known for their tails: long diffuse veils of ejected gas and reflective frozen material streaming out from their nucleus millions of miles away from the Sun. And even though we’ve typically been seeing it as a rugged rubble pile, Rosetta’s…