Cometary Research at MPS

Comets and asteroids are relicts of the solar system about 4.5 billion years ago, a time when the planets did not yet exist. Observing these objects with groundbased telescopes or with camera systems and spectrometer onboard spacecraft allow us to study the properties of the early solar system.
Comets are frozen relics from a time we cannot directly observe. The Kuiper belt and Oort cloud store vast numbers of comets at very cold temperatures. In those reservoirs, comets retain ices and particles that were present in the solar system when the planets were forming, and that are released in spectacular fashion when approaching the sun. We are interested in studying comets at all stages of their evolution to learn about the formation of planetary systems.
Rosetta is ESA's mission to comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta consists of an orbiter and a lander called Philae. After travelling through space for ten years, Rosetta will reach its destination in 2014. The spacecraft will accompany the comet on its way toward the Sun and perform scientific measurements and experiments. In November 2014, Philae is scheduled to touch down on the comet's surface.

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