Rosetta mission ends with a bang: But the discoveries will continue

Rosetta crashed onto the surface of a comet on Sept. 30, bringing its mission to an end, though the scientific analysis and discoveries will continue for decades. We examine a few of the biggest surprises and highlights of Rosetta’s scientific journey so far.

30 Sep 2016

What's in a name: Rosetta, Philae, and 67P?

All of the names associated with the Rosetta mission, including the orbiter itself, the lander and all of the place names coined by mission scientists on 67P, refer to ancient Egyptian sites or deities, in homage to the Egyptian origin of the Rosetta Stone and Philae obelisk.

30 Sep 2016

Philae: Achievement and disappointment

Rosetta’s Philae lander made the first landing on the surface of a comet when it touched down on Nov. 12, 2014, three months after Rosetta began orbiting 67P. The landing, though historic, did not go as planned, and Philae was unable to accomplish much of the scientific program that had been scheduled for its 10 instruments.

30 Sep 2016

Rosetta's journey

Launch date: March 2, 2004

Launch place: French Guiana

Launch mass: Rosetta: 2,900 kilograms; Philae: 100 kilograms

Rosetta dimensions: 2.8 x 2.1 x 2.0 meters, plus two 14-meter solar panels

30 Sep 2016

Small asteroid spotted circling Earth

Earth has a companion other than the moon, according to scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., who identified a previously unseen asteroid that circles around our planet as it follows its own orbit around the sun.

20 Sep 2016

Red Planet Roundup: September 2016

With two rovers patrolling the surface of Mars, five spacecraft orbiting above it, and scientists here on Earth studying the Red Planet from afar, new findings are announced often. Here are a few of the latest updates.

13 Sep 2016

First global topographic map of Mercury released

Mercury’s surface is arid, gray and scarred by craters over much of its landscape. Given its close proximity to the sun, a manned trip to Mercury is out of the question — but now you can explore Mercury’s pockmarked surface in its entirety with the first global topographic map of the planet.

02 Sep 2016

Modeling Io’s weird mountains

Jupiter’s innermost moon, Io, is home to some of the strangest mountains in our solar system: towering isolated peaks, some more than 8,000 meters tall, that jut from the moon’s surface with little evidence of underlying tectonics. Now, a new model may explain how Io’s odd peaks formed.

30 Aug 2016

Long-gone supernova sprinkles rare isotope

At the end of a star’s lifecycle it collapses and explodes into a supernova, spewing rare elements and isotopes outward into space. In the last 1,000 years, three supernova events have been observed in the Milky Way Galaxy. Now scientists have detected a rare iron isotope, iron-60, in our solar system that hints that a supernova may have exploded nearby within the last few million years.

09 Aug 2016

Lunar ice reveals moon's poles shifted

In 2009, NASA’s LCROSS mission sent a rocket crashing into a crater near the moon’s south pole, sending debris into space and confirming earlier indications of the presence of water ice on the moon. In a new study, researchers have found that the distribution of ice around the lunar poles doesn’t quite match what scientists initially expected. Instead of ice deposits centered only on the present-day poles — the darkest, coldest spots on the modern moon — ice appears to also be concentrated several degrees away from either pole. And, these off-axis deposits are directly across from one another, or antipodal, on opposite sides of the moon. The reason for this, the study’s authors say, is that the moon, shortly after its formation, shifted off its original rotation axis, causing new ice deposits to form around the new poles while older ice deposits remained at the original poles.

26 Jul 2016