Research Group "Small Bodies and Comets"
Small bodies in the solar system such as comets, asteroids and trans-neptunian objects (TNOs), are remnants of the formation of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago or as in the case of many asteroids, fragments of larger former objects. Studying these small celestial bodies provides information about the formation and evolution of the solar system about the physical conditions, the original and present mineral composition and chemistry. We examine these objects with both ground-based and space-based telescopes but also in-situ, i.e. on-site, either from orbit or stationary on the surface.
In recent years, we have been particularly involved in NASA's Dawn mission to the large asteroids 4 Vesta and 1 Ceres, and ESA's Rosetta mission to comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Further scientific participations are in planning for the ESA missions Hera (to a near-earth asteroid) and Comet Interceptor (to a long-periodic comet).