Comet 67P (Churyumov-Gerasimenko)
This page includes real-time data for Comet 67P as well as information for the Rosetta Spacecraft (currently alongside the comet). To view a 3D model of Comet 67P, click here.
June 14th: Having been dormant for months, the Philae lander has been able to gather enough light (as Comet 67P draws closer to the Sun) to enable it to send a signal back to Earth. Philae has indeed ‘woken up’. Exciting!
Rosetta’s Mission Target
Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P) is the focus of the ‘Rosetta spacecraft mission’ which is due to last until December 2015.
Rosetta arrived at Comet 67P in August 2014 and quickly scanned its surface for a suitable landing site for its lander Philae. On September 15th, ESA announced that they would deploy their lander to a point selected on the comet’s so called head. This point was initially named ‘Site J’ but after a public competition was named Agilkia.
On November 12th, the Philae lander separated from the Rosetta Spacecraft to make its seven hour journey to the comet’s surface. On touchdown, the lander’s harpoons failed to fire and Philae bounced twice before coming to rest on the surface (around 1km from its intended landing site). Philae sent data from the surface of Comet 67P but Philae’s position meant that it was unable to gather enough light to recharge its batteries sufficiently and has since gone offline.
Not a New Comet
Discovered in 1969, Comet 67P (Churyumov-Gerasimenko) is a Jupiter family comet measuring 4.5km across. It has an orbital period of 6.5 years and its closest point to the Sun at perihelion is 1.2458 AU (186m kilometres). Although Comet 67P won’t be visible with the naked eye from Earth, the Rosetta Spacecraft will make sure it is seen around the world in unprecedented detail.
ESA released a stunning composite 3D image of Comet 67P which can be found here.