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An Outburst from 67P as it Reaches Perihelion

ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
An exciting moment for the Rosetta team arrives this Thursday, August 13, when the comet the spacecraft is orbiting, 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, reaches perihelion -- the closet it gets to the sun in its 6.5 year orbit. The European Space Agency team has already seen outbursts as the icy rock begins to heat up. They just released this photo of the brightest jet yet observed shooting out of the comet on July 29 -- photos 18 minutes prior and 18 minutes later don’t show the short-lived outburst. Interestingly, Rosetta instruments showed that the jet had pushed away the solar wind magnetic field surrounding the comet. As things continue to heat up through perihelion, scientists hope to learn more and more from Rosetta’s close vantage point about the way comets behave.

Heather Goss is the Departments Editor at Air & Space.

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comet, Rosetta