The Complicated Trajectory to Understand a Comet

(Slate::Bad Astronomy) – Phil Plait:

In the summer of 2014 the Rosetta spacecraft approached and entered orbit around the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. No mission had ever done that before; humans had sent missions flying past comets, and even one to smash into a comet, but no long-term stay had ever been attempted.

Comets have very little gravity, so the term “orbit” is a bit loose here. Rosetta shifted around the comet, constantly changing its trajectory to accomplish the science needed to better understand the bizarre little wordlet. The European Space Agency released a short video outlining the spacecraft’s path as it moved around, and it’s worth watching. …

bad_astronomy 2016/08/07 rosetta

Rosetta trajectory for 2015-12-28

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