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Rosetta’s Comet Passes Perihelion

Today, at 2:03 AM GMT, comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, or more simply Rosetta‘s comet, reached perihelion, 186 million kilometers from the Sun. The event, which obviously also implies a maximum of activity, was marked by team members attending a two-hour Hangout, which also included some questions and answers about the New Horizons mission, and by the release of a new interactive viewer. Do note that the viewer is still quite a work in progress, but it’s still fun to play with for a little while.
Sadly, as it was once again confirmed during the Hangout as well, there has been no further contact with Philae and the last time something was received it was obvious that one receiver was broken and the two transmitters were malfunctioning, so it may be that other systems are still gathering information and attempting to send, but there’s no way for it to do so. Plus that, considering the increased activity, it’s quite possible that it once again moved to another location on the surface, changing the amount of sunlight received and obviously also making it impossible for Rosetta to know when and where to listen for a signal. The team doesn’t believe the jets could actually shoot Philae into space, however, and the power situation should continue to be good until October or so, so they’ll keep trying.

Interestingly, the Perseids also peaked last night, so while seeing Rosetta’s comet requires a relatively large telescope, there were reasons for anyone living in an area without much light pollution to look up, at least as long as the sky was relatively clear. For those who missed the “main show” but still hope to see some “shooting stars” this year, Perseids should still be visible for about ten more days, or more specifically ten more nights, but of course there will be much fewer now that the peak has passed.

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