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Dust-covered, boulder-strewn landscape on the smaller of the two lobes of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken from a distance of 5 miles (8 km). Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

A bleak yet beautiful boulder-strewn landscape on the smaller of the two lobes of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken from a distance of  just 5 miles (8 km). Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

We’ve subsisted for months on morsels of information coming from ESA’s mission to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Now, a series of scientific papers in journal Science offers a much more complete, if preliminary, look at Rosetta’s comet. And what a wonderful and complex world it is. [click to continue…]

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This video frame shows a robotic arm on the space station, called the Japanese Experiment Module Remote Manipulator System, successfully installing NASA's Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) to the Space Station’s Japanese Experiment Module on Jan. 22, 2015.  Credit: NASA

The Japanese robotic arm installs the CATS experiment on an external platform on Japan’s Kibo lab module. The SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft is seen at the right center of the image. Credit: NASA TV
See way cool installation video below

“Robotic controllers let the CATS out of the bag!” So says NASA spokesman Dan Huot in a cool new NASA timelapse video showing in detail how CATS crawled around the space stations gangly exterior and clawed its way into its new home – topped off with a breathtaking view of our home planet that will deliver science benefits to us down below. [click to continue…]

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A Fissure spanning over 100 meters across the neck of Rosetta's comet 67P raises the question of if or when will the comet breakup. The fissure is part of released studies by Rosetta scientists in the Journal Science (Image Credits: ESA/Rosetta, Illustration, T.Reyes)

A fissure spanning over 100 meters across the neck of Rosetta’s comet 67P raises the question of if, or when, the comet will breakup. The fissure is part of released studies by Rosetta scientists in the journal Science. (Image Credits: ESA/Rosetta, Illustration, T.Reyes)

Not all comets breakup as they vent and age, but for Rosetta’s comet 67P, the Rubber Duckie comet, a crack in the neck raises concerns. Some comets may just fizzle and uniformly expel their volatiles throughout their surfaces. They may become like puffballs, shrink some but remain intact.

Comet 67P is the other extreme. The expulsion of volatile material has led to a shape and a point of no return; it is destined to break in two. Songwriter Neil Sedaka exclaimed, “Breaking Up is Hard to Do,” but for comets this may be the norm. The fissure is part of the analysis in a new set of science papers published this week.

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See a Rare Comet-Moon Conjunction Tonight

Tonight (Friday, Jan. 23rd) the moon will pass only about 1°  (two moon diameters) south of Comet 15P/Finlay as seen from the Americas. This map shows the view from the upper Midwest at 7 p.m. Two 6th magnitude stars in Pisces are labelled. Created with Chris Marriott's SkyMap software

Tonight (Friday, Jan. 23rd) the moon will pass only about 1° (two moon diameters) south of Comet 15P/Finlay as seen from the Americas. This map shows the view from the upper Midwest at 7 p.m. Two 6th magnitude stars in Pisces are labelled. Created with Chris Marriott’s SkyMap software

I want to alert you to a rather unusual event occurring this evening.

Many of you already know about the triple shadow transit of Jupiter’s moons Io, Europa and Callisto. That’s scheduled for late tonight.

Earlier, around nightfall, the crescent moon will lie 1° or less to the south-southwest of comet 15P/Finlay. No doubt lunar glare will hamper the view some, but what a fun opportunity to use the moon to find a comet. [click to continue…]

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Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain)

Guests:
Morgan Rehnberg (cosmicchatter.org / @MorganRehnberg )
Ramin Skibba (@raminskibba)
Dave Dickinson (@astroguyz / www.astroguyz.com)
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