After over a year in orbit, the comet and Rosetta approach the sun. The comet, made of organic particles, minerals and ice, has recently begun displaying numerous activities while it made its closest approach to the Sun. This is because of the heat from the Sun, and as a result, the amount of hydrogen sulfide increased by seven, the methane amount by four and the carbon dioxide amount increased by two. However, the water amount stayed almost constant.
There were numerous photos taken by the scientific camera on the Rosetta spacecraft, called the OSIRIS, which showed a jet-like feature appearing from the comet’s side.
However, we shouldn’t expect miraculous images, as the ones we’ve seen earlier this year from spacecraft looking at the dwarf planet Pluto, the dwarf planet Ceres and even Earth.
“The jet of dust and gas in not seen in the first image, is at its height in the second, and has mostly faded away by the third”
Said the ESA scientists who have estimated that the material in the jet was moving at 32 feet per second or more.
The Rosetta spacecraft and its comet were around 186 million kilometers away from our Sun. This is a distance that puts the comet between the orbits of Mars and Earth. The event is called “perihelion”.
The team of scientists behind the Rosetta spacecraft has been analyzing the small and icy world as it warmed up. The comet released gas and dust, including a bright jet seen on July 29. The comet releases a material, as it becomes a lot more active on its approach towards the Sun. This is the reason why comets have big tails when they become visible in the sky at night. This particular outburst was caused by ices turning into gas and being poured into space. And even though the entire phenomenon was really bright, it was quite short.
On 6 August 2014, Rosetta first arrived near the Comet 67P. The spacecraft spent the past months in orbit, getting as close as 30km of the surface of the icy comet. However, in the last months, large flows of dust surrounding the comet have forced the spacecraft to move back. The Philae lander is still on the surface of the comet but at the time it ceased to communicate. The scientists are not really sure if they will ever be able to regain communication between the Rosetta spacecraft and the lander.
Image Source: i.dailymail.co.uk