Credit: ESA

Credit: ESA

The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft has pulled up to comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko – and what an eye-full!

You might enjoy these comet comments from Chris Lewicki, President and Chief Asteroid Miner at Planetary Resources, Inc.:

What is the difference between a comet and asteroid, after all?

Some comets are believed to be as much as 50% water – dirty snowballs so to speak – and what we’re seeing today at 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko is what a comet looks like without all that water vapor in the way.

 

Credit: ESA

Credit: ESA

 

Comets generally have very eccentric orbits, and spend most of their time in the outer Solar System, having the innards baked out as they make their passages around the sun.

Asteroid orbits are less extreme, so we don’t tend to see their behavior change in time, but it is possible that some asteroids could be extinct comets, waiting for their reserves of ancient water to be discovered.

I’m excited to learn what comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko has to teach, and there will certainly be surprises.

This mission may help us understand more about the makeup and resources on small Solar System bodies.

Credit: ESA

Credit: ESA

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