Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko: path, dimensions, photos

Comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko became a frequent guest in the media reports after 2003, when it was decided to send it to her vehicle "Rosetta" with the descent module "Fila".The goal of an ambitious project, without exaggeration, has been planting the device at the subject and study its characteristics.Today, in April 2015, we can say that the mission was successfully accomplished.A preceded it as the amount of work to build the spacecraft, and to study the comet.


Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the trajectory, size and other parameters of it were bad explored before selecting it as the object of the mission "Rosetta."Happy discovery of this cosmic body is considered to be 23 October 1969. The first pictures of the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, however, were obtained just before the 11th.Then future discoverers Svetlana Gerasimenko Klim Churyumov and in a group of astronomers Kiev State University observed the motion of comets in the sky over the surrounding area of ​​Alma-Ata.

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October 11 Svetlana Gerasimenko comet made a picture Comas Sola, which turned out to be a strange spot, supposedly married a photographic plate.However, after some time has Klim Churyumov, studying this and other images from this part of the sky, I found that spot is present on all shifts and markedly against the background stars.Photos were sent to Cambridge to Brian Marsden, who calculated the orbit of the new comet.Named in honor of its discoverer.In scientific publications cosmic body designated as Comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

flight characteristics

As it turned out, the discovery of cosmic body is a short-period comets.That does not make it unique: in the solar system, more than one hundred objects of the same type as the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko.The flight path it is that the perihelion (the place of the least distance from the Sun) is located between the orbits of Mars and Earth and aphelion (the place of the greatest distance from the Sun) - beyond the orbit of the gas giant Jupiter.The orbital period of slightly less than 6.6 years.

neighborhood with such a large planet like Jupiter, for anybody not go in vain.No exception and the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko.The trajectory of its flight is constantly exposed to gravity giant.Scientists have calculated some time ago one revolution of the celestial body around the Sun took about three years more, but for 10 years before its discovery the comet too moved closer to Jupiter.The result was a reduction of the rotation period.

Object mission

If you go back to the probe "Rosetta", the comet 67P was the goal of the project for several reasons:

  • since the discovery took 40 years, during which time the subject was conducted constant surveillance: the astronomers are well aware of its orbitand can predict almost any potential impacts on it;
  • comet's orbit is inclined from the plane of the ecliptic by only 7 °, which means there is no need for additional energy resources to raise the spacecraft above the ecliptic.

Nevertheless, the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, size, orbit and other characteristics which are ideal for such a mission was not the first candidate.Initially, the probe was supposed to go to the comet Wirtanen, similar in its parameters with 67P.The situation has changed because of the engine failure, the carrier rocket "Arion-5."The planned launch had to be postponed, and a favorable start time was lost.At this point, and it found that in about a year it will be possible to send "Rosetta" to another object - a comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Long 10 years

probe "Rosetta" had to go to the tail of the comet, after leveling with her speed, to be her companion, to determine the possible landing place and drop it module "Fila".In order for all this to happen, the unit had 10 years to circle the solar system.During his journey, "Rosetta" photographed Mars and the Earth in several angles, repeatedly crossed the asteroid belt, and had met with two of his representatives, and to shoot them.In addition, during convergence "Rosetta" took pictures of the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which helped clarify its shape.It was found that 67P is visually divided into two parts connected by a narrow isthmus enough.Articles about 67P can be found mention of a rubber duck on which the form is like a comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko.Dimensions "head", a smaller part, 2,5 × 2,5 × 2,0 km, "body" - 4,1 × 3,2 × 1,3 km.

Mission Possible

Without going into details, we can say that the first in the history of mankind landing a spacecraft on the surface of the comet was generally successful.Module "Fila" landed not quite where it was planned, and soon ran out of energy stocks, however, was able to convey a lot of information to Earth.

Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which is the surface photo "Fila" has passed in the process of planting, very much, "suffered" from the device: it rattles, drilled, transmission and so on.The researchers obtained data on the composition, topography, gravity.This information is still valuable because the comet has the same age as the solar system, and therefore, can reveal some of the secrets of its formation.

briefly on the results

Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, a photo of the landscape that helped map the surface was divided into zones according to the characteristics of the relief.Among the formations that resemble cliffs and dunes, it was found three-meter hills, common to the entire surface.Presumably, they are typical of other comets.

During the investigation it was found that the density of the material of a comet half the size of this index in the water.Also, scientists have been able to establish a relation of organic compounds and water molecules.First there were more that is different from the assumptions of researchers.These data led to reconsider the hypothesis of the origin of the comet: it was thought that it was formed in the vicinity of Jupiter.New data strongly suggest that the comet came from a more remote area of ​​the solar system, from the Kuiper Belt.

Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the trajectory and characteristics that come to the grandiose project "Rosetta", has not yet revealed all its secrets.The machine that brought "Fila", still accompanies it and is still transmitting data.Therefore it is possible that we will soon learn about 67P lot.