Comet that could reveal Earth’s beginnings disappears for 200 years

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A ‘Rubber Duck’ comet made its closest approach to Earth over the weekend and will no longer return to our planet for another 200 years.

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Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko came close to Mars – 62.8 million kilometers closer to our planet – before leaving our proximity until 2214.

The comet first gained notoriety in 2014, when the Rosetta spacecraft made contact during a 10-year chase. At the time, the scientists involved called it “the sexiest, most spectacular mission ever.”


The snow ball got its description related to its pimple from the fact that the comet appeared as two fused pieces of rock that looked like a bath toy – albeit about 2.6 miles wide.

Rosetta orbited the comet for nearly three years, taking measurements of the comet’s surface and its surroundings.

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It launched a small craft called Philae on the comet to gather information about its chemical composition, but all did not go well; Philae sprung twice, eventually resting in a region less than optimal for scientists because of the failure of the two harpoons attached to the lander to secure it to the comet, space miss,

“This ice that’s 4.5 billion years old, it’s soft like the foam on top of your cappuccino, it’s soft like the sea foam on the beach, it’s softer than the softest snow after a snowstorm,” Study author Lawrence O’Rourke said:,

“You can’t just hit it with an object and expect it to move or disintegrate—it would be like punching a cloud.”

Philae’s new location was at the bottom of a rock where solar panels could not receive energy for the Sun, depleting their reserves after two days – until the comet’s angle toward the Sun changed in June 2015.

However, the amount of data collected from the mission makes Comet 67P the best studied of all comets. This helped scientists discover that these celestial bodies have their own auroras, as well as understand more about Earth’s own history.

It is possible that Earth was a ‘dry’ planet containing water and organic material that had passed through the comets, which would make the composition of the water on the comet similar to that of Earth.


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