There is a nice video out that shows what we might expect to see during the approach and encounter with the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
As the video showed the comet is just now becoming visible and in fact Rosetta did get a couple of pictures of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta is about 5 million km / 3.1 million miles from the comet and this image comes from 60-300 second exposures. Nice and steady!
Rosetta’s first sighting of its target in 2014 – narrow angle view Image and caption: ESA
The camera is working great! I especially like the globular cluster! It is M107.
See more at the Rosetta site.
Hubble’s latest look at comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) on its way to a close encounter with Mars.
Hubble gives us this updated image of C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring). The image is all the better knowing the comet is somewhere around a magnitude 18 or so making it thousands of times fainter than we can see. Clicking the image will take you to Hubblesite. Clicking here will take you directly to the Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring)image page at Hubblesite.
Comet Siding Spring is plunging toward the Sun along a roughly 1-million-year orbit. The comet, discovered in 2013, was within the radius of Jupiter’s orbit when the Hubble Space Telescope photographed it on March 11, 2014. Hubble resolves two jets of dust coming from the solid icy nucleus. These persistent jets were first seen in Hubble pictures taken on Oct. 29, 2013. The feature should allow astronomers to measure the direction of the nucleus’s pole, and hence, rotation axis. The comet will make its closest approach to our Sun on Oct. 25, 2014, at a distance of 130 million miles, well outside Earth’s orbit. On its inbound leg, Comet Siding Spring will pass within 84,000 miles of Mars on Oct. 19, 2014, which is less than half the Moon’s distance from Earth. The comet is not expected to become bright enough to be seen by the naked eye.
Dwarf Planet 2012 VP113 in three different images stacked together, it’s the red, blue and green dots. Image: Courtesy Scott Sheppard and Chad Trujillo.
A new dwarf planet has been found in our solar system, its name: 2012 VP113. The new dwarf planet is a long ways out, coming no closer to the sun than 80 AU.
Not just that, but it sounds like there is a potential of a new planet out there, possibly up to 10 times the size of the Earth! This remains to be seen though.
This from the Carnegie Institute:
New work from Carnegie’s Scott Sheppard and Chadwick Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory reports the discovery of a distant dwarf planet, called 2012 VP113, which was found beyond the known edge of the Solar System. This is likely one of thousands of distant objects that are thought to form the so-called inner Oort cloud. What’s more, their work indicates the potential presence of an enormous planet, perhaps up to 10 times the size of Earth, not yet seen, but possibly influencing the orbit of 2012 VP113, as well as other inner Oort cloud objects.
Read the rest of the press release at the Carnegie Institute (more images too).
Four moons of Saturn at once! Click for larger. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
We get to see four of Saturn;s moons in this Cassini image. NASA describes them below. They do not comment on one of more spectacular shots of the rings Cassini has taken; they show up better in the larger versions at the NASA website.
Two pairs of moons make a rare joint appearance. The F ring’s shepherd moons, Prometheus and Pandora, appear just inside and outside of the F ring (the thin faint ring furthest from Saturn). Meanwhile, farther from Saturn the co-orbital moons Janus (near the bottom) and Epimetheus (about a third of the way down from the top) also are captured.
Prometheus (53 miles, or 86 kilometers across) and Pandora (50 miles, or 81 kilometers across) sculpt the F ring through their gravitational influences. Janus (111 miles, or 179 kilometers across) and Epimetheus (70 miles, or 113 kilometers across) are famous for their orbital dance, swapping places about every four years. They are also responsible for gravitationally shaping the outer edge of the A ring into seven scallops.
This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 47 degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Oct. 11, 2013.
The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 810,000 miles (1.3 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 47 degrees. Image scale is 47 miles (76 kilometers) per pixel.