First UV results from Alice onboard Rosetta

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  • Published: Sep 5, 2014
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: UV/Vis Spectroscopy
thumbnail image: First UV results from Alice onboard Rosetta

The UV imaging spectrometer onboard the Rosetta craft orbiting its target comet has sent its first results back to NASA scientists, revealing some surprises. Rosetta was successfully placed into orbit around comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August in preparation for a series of remote experiments before the lander is set onto the comet's surface.

The instrument, one of two that NASA has on the payload, found that the surface of the comet is far darker than anticipated in the far-UV region and appears to be devoid of large collections of water ice. Principal investigator Alan Stern remarked “We're a bit surprised at just how unreflective the comet's surface is and how little evidence of exposed water-ice it shows.”

On September 15th, The ESA will announce the landing site for the lander, which is called Philae after the island in the river Nile on which an obelisk was found with a bilingual inscription that gave vital clues to deciphering the Rosetta Stone. Five candidate locations were selected and Rosetta was moved to within 50 km from the comet so that they could be examined in detail.

Image: ESA/ATG Medialab

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