The Rosetta spacecraft revealed unexpected features on comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko during its orbit on a cold trip.
In the first report on 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the Alice device on the Rosetta spacecraft detects that instead of an image of a bright comet covered in ice, its target is actually blacker than coal.
And while analyzing the transmitted data, scientists have so far not found a large chunk of ice on the surface of the comet.
“We were a little surprised by the non-reflective surface of the comet, and there was too little evidence that it contained water in the form of ice,” said Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Vietnam, Colorado. (USA).
Previously, experts believed the comet’s surface must be covered in ice because the 67P was too far from the sun to melt.
In addition, they discovered that the comet’s so-called “atmosphere” contained hydrogen and oxygen, instead of just being the supposed vapor and dust.
Alice is currently studying the origins, texture and other characteristics of 67P to collect data beyond the field of view of terrestrial and space astronomical herds.