Home > Agencies & Organisations, Astronomy, Comets, ESA (European Space Agency), NASA (National Aeronautics & Space Administration), Rosetta, Solar System, Spaceflight, Unmanned Spaceflight > Rosetta-Alice Spectrograph Obtains First Far Ultraviolet Spectra Of A Cometary Surface While Orbiting Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Rosetta-Alice Spectrograph Obtains First Far Ultraviolet Spectra Of A Cometary Surface While Orbiting Churyumov-Gerasimenko


NASA’s Alice ultraviolet (UV) spectrograph aboard the European Space Agency’s Rosetta comet orbiter has delivered its first scientific discoveries. Rosetta, in orbit around comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, is the first spacecraft to study a comet up close.

As Alice began mapping the comet’s surface last month, it made the first far ultraviolet spectra of a cometary surface. From these data, the Alice team discovered that the comet is unusually dark at ultraviolet wavelengths and that the comet’s surface — so far — shows no large water-ice patches. Alice is also already detecting both hydrogen and oxygen in the comet’s coma, or atmosphere.

“We’re a bit surprised at both just how very unreflective the comet’s surface is, and what little evidence of exposed water-ice it shows,” says Dr. Alan Stern, Alice principal investigator and an associate vice president of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) Space Science and Engineering Division.

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