Feeds

NASA's crash comet made of clay

Tempel-1 gives up its secrets

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Initial results from NASA's crash landing on Comet Tempel-1 could spell disaster for the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, NASA scientists say. In addition, the findings about the composition of the comet are not entirely as expected, and could shed new light on the earliest days of our solar system.

Deep Impact's probe collided with Tempel-1 on 4 July, releasing an immense cloud of dust, gas and ice. The analysis of the ejected material, using the Spitzer space telescope, suggests the surface is composed of very fine powder, of a consistency similar to that of freshly fallen snow.

Speaking at a gathering of planetary scientists in Cambridge, principal investigator, Dr. Mike Ahearn said that the comet is made of unbelievably fragile material.

"You could pick up a chunk of it like you were picking up good powdered snow for skiing, except it would mostly be dust. The various pieces are held together so weakly that you could break them up on any spatial scale, big or small," he said.

This could make it very tough for Rosetta to land, as it is designed to cling on to a presumed-to-be rocky surface, the NASA team says.

But a little sparring between the US and European space agencies is not unheard of, and ESA scientists say they have not lost heart. Comets are a diverse group of objects, said ESA's Dr Bernard Foing, and there is no reason to suspect that 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is as fragile as Tempel-1.

The analysis also reveals that the cometary material is more varied than anticipated. Comet Tempel 1 contains clays, carbonates and hydrocarbons, the BBC reports.

The presence of clays and carbonates is particularly surprising. Comets are thought to contain material, unchanged from the very earliest days of the solar system. But clays and carbonates need liquid water to form, suggesting the early solar system was rather different than we currently imagine, with much more mixing of the material that went on to form the planets. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Business security measures using SSL
Examines the major types of threats to information security that businesses face today and the techniques for mitigating those threats.