Rosetta Probe Follows Comet to Sun

The European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe will observe the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko as it makes its closest orbit to the sun — known as perihelion.

The probe has stalked the comet for a year and more than 466 million miles. It’s now set to observe a massive ejection of water vapor as the icy object warms in the heat of the Sun.

According to the ESA, the comet is ejecting an equivalent of two bathtubs full of liquid every second.

“Activity will remain high like this for many weeks, and we’re certainly looking forward to seeing how many more jets and outburst events we catch in the act, as we have already witnessed in the last few weeks,” says Nicolas Altobelli, acting Rosetta project scientist.

Along with gas, the ESA estimates the comet sheds 1 ton of dust per second. As a result of those conditions, flight controls have eased Rosetta’s distance from the object.

Rosetta Tweet
“In recent days, we have been forced to move even further away from the comet. We’re currently at a distance of between 325 km and 340 km (200 to 211 miles) this week, in a region where Rosetta’s startrackers can operate without being confused by excessive dust levels – without them working properly, Rosetta can’t position itself in space,” comments Sylvain Lodiot, ESA’s spacecraft.

Allison Leslie is a University of South Florida graduate with a bachelors degree in Mass Communications. She joined Genesis in 2016. With a passion for sports, Allison has interned with 620 WDAE, Pewter Report, Trifecta Team: St. Petersburg Bowl, Bullscast, and many other publications. Being a native to the Bay Area, she has followed and supported Tampa Bay teams her whole life.