Comet – it’s a time machine

Klim Churyumov followed the descent module to open them comet

Astronomers around the world hold fists: a space module “Fily” the size of a washing machine dropped on the surface of the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

The comet, which in 1969 opened two Ukrainians, is now away from us at several times the distance from earth to the Sun.

After three jumps on the surface of a celestial body module “Fily” still managed to stay in place, although how stable it was fixed there – while not clearly.

The gravity of the comet a mass of 10 billion tonnes is too small to firmly hold himself on any body.

Probe “Rosetta”, which was delivered to the comet the lander, known as the new success of space science, which will help to reveal secrets of the Solar system.

The discoverers of the comet, astronomers Klim Churyumov and Svetlana Gerasimenko, watched the landing module of the German centre for aviation and Astronautics in Cologne.

Colleague Churyumov Igor Lukyanchuk, Deputy Director of the Observatory at the Kyiv University named after Shevchenko, told the Ukrainian service bi-Bi-si Oleg Karpyak, why landing on a comet – for science event.

Igor Lukyanchuk: Rosetta is the first spacecraft to orbit the comet’s nucleus. Before that, all missions to comets were span – the phone was close by, took pictures, measurements and flew away.

It is also the first spacecraft, which will fly near the comet as it nears the Sun, and will monitor the dynamics of everything that happens. Now she is far from the Sun, so on the surface there is virtually no activity, only a very weak emission.

The closer the comet will approach the Sun, the more warm up its surface, will be allocated gases, which trap dust and form the phenomenon that we see in the sky – a comet with a beautiful tail.

But as approaching the Sun the comet surface is expected to warm up, the module can get data only until March of next year. Then the temperature becomes too high.

Bi-bi-si: Why this mission chose the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko?

I. L.: the First launch of the project “Rosetta” planned for 2003, but the object was to become the comet of Virtanen. Choose the objects at the lower energy, and accordingly financial, costs. That is, it needs to fly close and in the place where we can run the machine with minimal cost.

In 2003 the window when it was possible to launch a probe to the comet of Virtanen, unfortunately, missed due to technical problems with the launch vehicle “Ariane-5”, which was supposed to launch “Rosetta”.

But in such large and expensive projects, of course, provide a fallback. It was the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Both comets – periodic. But the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko became periodic only for 10 years prior to its opening in 1969. And before that she was in the Solar system, flying close to Jupiter that changed its orbit, and it has become one of short-period comets of the Jupiter family.

Bi-bi-si: As its opened?

I. L.: Ludmila Gerasimenko, who now works in Tajikistan, at the time, in 1969, was a graduate student at the Shevchenko University and worked under the leadership of Sergey Bo, founder of the famous comet in the world of the school. And Klim Churyumov was a research fellow of the University. And Sergei all saints then sent all employees to search for new comets. He was sent to Alma-ATA to monitor the comet comas Sola.

Then all shot on large glass Photographic plates. They watched comas and Salt first thought on them four images of the defect, because the shape and other parameters of the comet was different from what they expected. Having six Photos of the comet, taken on different days, they considered the elements of its orbit compared with the orbit elements of comas Sola and saw that it was a completely different comet. Sent all the data in Bureau for astronomical telegrams in the USA, and they confirmed that this is a new comet, and was named Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Bi-bi-si: what For generally to study the comet and spend a lot of money?

I. L.: Project “Rosetta” may modify, confirm or refute our ideas about the formation of the Solar system.

Image caption Module “Fily” on the surface of the comet

Whenever we think the Solar system formed from a protoplanetary cloud. Due to its rotation and the gravitational effect was the separation of substances: heavy elements, the dust was approaching closer to the Sun, and light water ice, frozen gases, retreated to the edge of the Solar system. That’s why all the planets of the so-called earth-like – solid, for example, Venus, Earth, Mars. And Jupiter, Saturn and beyond, and that the frozen liquid and gases.

According to this theory comets formed at the edge of the Solar system, where is the so-called Kuiper belt. Due to the different perturbations of these cometary nuclei enter the inner Solar system and become comets. And all the stuff from which they were formed, is the very substance from which the Solar system was formed.

Moreover, when examining this matter, we explore the physical conditions in which created the Solar system.

Comet – this is a time machine that gives us a glimpse into the past of the Solar system.

Bi-bi-si: will it be Possible ever to see this comet with the naked eye?

I. L.: Naked – no, but with the help of a telescope. In the 1980s, she was closer to the Ground and had a ninth magnitudes, i.e., it can be seen in binoculars. The human eye can distinguish the fifth-sixth magnitudes, but only if you look at the dark sky outside the big city [ the smaller the magnitude, the brighter the object is Red. ].

The perihelion of this comet is the closest point to the Sun lies outside of Earth’s orbit. That is, it reaches it, turns around and flies back to Jupiter. Bright comets that we see from Earth, as a rule, fly closer to the Sun.

Bi-bi-si: What did you feel when on Tuesday, the European space Agency announced that the device landed on a comet?

I. L.: we Now read more news about what is happening in Eastern Ukraine, so, of course, it is pleasant and joyful, but the feeling could be much better. And people could come more to watch the live broadcast because it is really an outstanding event.

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