Rosetta and Comet 67P, with Natalie Starkey – StarTalk All-Stars

Philae lander on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Copyright: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA.

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On 9/30/16, the Rosetta spacecraft will purposefully join its Philae lander and crash into Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Before then, StarTalk All-Stars host Natalie Starkey, co-host Chuck Nice and Rosetta Mission Project Scientist Matt Taylor review what we’ve learned. You’ll find out why the surface of Comet 67P is fluffy, what it “smells” like, and why we’re lucky that the Philae lander didn’t bounce out into space, never to be seen again. You’ll hear how the data from Rosetta’s ROSINA instrument has updated what we know about Comet Halley and other comets. Explore what the COSAC and Ptolemy instruments on Philae discovered about the comet’s surface and coma, including 4 organic compounds we’ve never seen on a comet before. Plus, Matt describes the planned “Last Day of Rosetta,” when the spacecraft navigates the strange shape and gravitational perturbations from 67P to reduce its orbit below 10km, to 1km, to its eventual controlled impact, and what we expect to learn as its cameras and powerful mass spectrometer gets closer to the surface. Plus, cosmochemist Natalie reviews the importance of analyzing water ice and “D to H ratios” (deuterium to hydrogen), and why we still have a lot to learn about plutoids, Kuiper Belt Objects, main belt comets, and comets from the Oort Cloud.

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