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How the duck got its neck: Rapid temperature changes from self-shadowing may explain 67P's unusual activity and shape

Emily Lakdawalla • September 11, 2015

When Rosetta approached comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko last summer, both its shape and its activity were surprising. It looked like two comets welded together at a skinny neck. A new paper explains how the neck may be steepening itself.

Aluminum Shapemodel of Comet 67P

Mattias Malmer • September 04, 2015

Mattias Malmer describes his MacGyver-esque process in creating a homemade aluminum version of 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

ESA's cool new interactive comet visualization tool based on amateur imaging work with open data

Emily Lakdawalla • August 13, 2015

A terrific new visualization tool for comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko demonstrates the value of sharing mission image data with the public. The browser-based tool lets you spin a simulated 3D view of the comet. It began with a 3D model of the comet created not by ESA, but by a space enthusiast, Mattias Malmer.

What's up in solar system exploration: August 2015 edition

Emily Lakdawalla • August 10, 2015

I'm back from two weeks' vacation, so it's time to catch up on the status of all our intrepid planetary missions, from Akatsuki to the Voyagers and hitting the Moon, Mars, asteroids, comets, and Saturn in between.

New Robotic Spacecraft Posters

Bill Dunford • August 06, 2015

Another round of posters to celebrate historic planetary missions.

Two more brief mission updates: Philae makes contact; Akatsuki to perform course correction

Emily Lakdawalla • July 10, 2015

As a followup to yesterday's post about Dawn, Juno, and OSIRIS-REx, I have updates on two more missions. With this post, I hope to have cleared the decks so that I can focus on Pluto for the next week!

More than 2000 Rosetta NavCam images for your enjoyment

Emily Lakdawalla • July 07, 2015

Last week, the European Space Agency released the first set of images from Rosetta's navigational camera, or NavCam, from the phase of the mission that followed the Philae landing. That makes more than 3500 NavCam images that have been released from the comet phase of the mission.

Philae is awake! What's next for the comet lander's scientific mission?

Emily Lakdawalla • June 17, 2015

I woke up early Sunday morning to the dramatic news: Philae is back! With a few days to consider the telemetry, the Philae team is now talking about the science they hope to do. With comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko approaching perihelion in August, it's going to be an exciting ride.

Unseen latitudes of comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko -- revealed!

Emily Lakdawalla • May 15, 2015

A recent Rosetta image has revealed a good part of the comet's previously hidden southern terrain to the public for the first time.

More than 1000 Rosetta NavCam images released!

Emily Lakdawalla • April 29, 2015

Today the European Space Agency released a ton of NavCam images, taken as the spacecraft approached and then entered orbit at the comet.

Rosetta update: Two close flybys of an increasingly active comet

Emily Lakdawalla • April 21, 2015

In the two months since I last checked up on the Rosetta mission, the comet has heated up, displaying more and more jet activity. Rosetta completed very close flybys on February 14 and March 28, taking amazing photos. But comet dust is making navigation difficult, so the mission is now keeping a respectful distance from the comet and replanning its future path.

LPSC 2015: Philae at comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Emily Lakdawalla • March 18, 2015

In my first post from the 2015 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, I discuss the latest work on Philae images, and some cometary polymers.

Adding Churyumov-Gerasimenko to my scale comparison of comets and asteroids

Emily Lakdawalla • March 13, 2015

Having found a color photo of the comet, I finally added Churyumov-Gerasimenko to my scale comparison of comets and asteroids visited by spacecraft.

Mini mission updates: Dawn in orbit; Curiosity short circuit; Rosetta image release; Hayabusa2 in cruise phase; and more

Emily Lakdawalla • March 06, 2015

Dawn has successfully entered orbit at Ceres, becoming the first mission to orbit a dwarf planet and the first to orbit two different bodies beyond Earth. I also have updates on Curiosity, Rosetta, Mars Express, Hayabusa2, the Chang'e program, InSIGHT, and OSIRIS-REx.

An active comet, from a distance

Emily Lakdawalla • February 13, 2015

Rosetta has closed to within 50 kilometers of Churyumov-Gerasimenko, on its way to a very close, 6-kilometer flyby of the comet tomorrow. To prepare for the flyby, Rosetta traveled much farther away, allowing it to snap these amazing photos of an increasingly active comet from a great distance.

Rosetta shifts from sedate circular orbits to swooping flybys

Emily Lakdawalla • February 10, 2015

For the period of time before and after the Philae landing, Rosetta was able to orbit the comet close enough that it was in gravitationally bound orbits, circling the comet's center of gravity. As the comet's activity increases, the spacecraft has to spend most of its time farther away, performing occasional close flybys. The first of these is at 6 kilometers, on February 14.

At last! A slew of OSIRIS images shows fascinating landscapes on Rosetta's comet

Emily Lakdawalla • January 26, 2015

The first results of the Rosetta mission are out in Science magazine. The publication of these papers means that the OSIRIS camera team has finally released a large quantity of closeup images of comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, taken in August and September of last year. I explain most of them, with help from my notes from December's American Geophysical Union meeting.

New Churyumov-Gerasimenko Shapemodel!

Mattias Malmer • December 12, 2014

Mattias Malmer shares his latest shape model of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, created using data from the Rosetta spacecraft.

Rosetta imaged Philae during its descent -- and after its bounce

Emily Lakdawalla • November 17, 2014

This morning ESA released a set of images of the Philae lander taken by the Rosetta orbiter during -- and after -- the lander's first touchdown. The images contain evidence for the spot Philae first touched the comet, and a crucial photo of Philae's position several minutes into its first long bounce.

Now Philae down to sleep

Emily Lakdawalla • November 15, 2014

My last post on the drama in Darmstadt, where ground controllers believe Philae may have fell asleep for good.

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