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Exploring the PlanetsA Memoir$
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Fred Taylor

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199671595

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199671595.001.0001

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The Days of the Comet

The Days of the Comet

(p.221) 11 The Days of the Comet
Exploring the Planets

Fred Taylor

Oxford University Press

The author worked with the European Space Agency to help plan its first mission to a comet, intended to analyse its thin atmosphere and land on the solid nucleus, and perhaps even to bring a core sample back to Earth. Decades later, the mission eventually flew under the name Rosetta, encountering Comet 67/P Churyumov–Gerasimenko in 2014 and going into orbit around it about thirty kilometres above its curiously shaped, rocky and icy surface. The Oxford group formed part of an international team, led by Italy, which developed the Visible-Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer for the mission. From orbit, VIRTIS was mapping the surface of the comet and its gas emissions to measure their composition, and watching from close by as the Philae lander is deployed.

Keywords:   European Space Agency, Rosetta, VIRTIS, Philae, Comet 67/P, Churyumov–Gerasimenko

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