A new study has raised several complicated questions about the origin Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko where the European Space Agency (ESA) is already undergoing probe via its Rosetta spacecraft.
The scientists behind the Rosetta mission have discovered that the complex ancient celestial body is surrounded by a changing cloud of gases and coated with amazingly simple organic molecules.
After covering a ten-year long journey, ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft finally reached Comet 67P and put itself into its orbit in August last year in an attempt to carry an unprecedented long-term study about the comets, their origin and life-supporting facts.
In November, Rosetta released a piggyback-riding spacecraft, called Philae Lander which made a historic landing to the surface of the comet for a large number of independent studies.
The ESA scientists released seven papers on Thursday in the journal Science detailing about the findings of Rosetta during its first two months while orbiting around 67P. The findings from the experiments conducted by Philae Lander are pending.
According to the scientists, the comet’s body was found covered in dunes and ripples. The comet, which is nearly 100 million times more giant than the man-made International Space Station (ISS), carried little detectable water ice and generous quantities of hydrocarbons on its surface.
The scientists were hoping of getting more complicated carbon-containing molecules, rather they uncovered mostly simple hydrocarbons. The space experts said the findings by Rosetta have raised many questions about how the formation of organic compounds took place and how they spread through our solar system.
Rosetta scientist Stephen Fuselier, who is also associated with Southwest Research Institute, said, “We’re taught that comets are made mostly of water ice. For this comet, the coma sometimes contains much more carbon dioxide than water vapor.”
It is believed that the comets are frozen leftovers following the formation of the planets around 4.6 billion years ago. The main aim of the Rosetta mission is to shed light on the early days of our solar system, the formation of planets and many more related facts after closely studying one of its pristine comet remnants.
Rosetta will continue with its fly mission around the comet’s surface respective of its position with the sun. The spacecraft will have its closest approach, i.e. nearly 116 million miles away from the sun, will take place on August 13 this year.