The COSIMA instrument on board the Rosetta spacecraft will provide the first high resolution mass spectra of grains collected close to a comet. The imaging system of COSIMA, COSISCOPE, built by Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale, will locate and characterize the collected cometary grains.
After a ten-year-long interplanetary journey, Rosetta finally approaches its final destination, the nucleus of the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, on which the Philae module will land in November. The CIVA imaging system, designed to obtain a stereoscopic panoramic view of the surface of the comet after the landing of Philae, has just been turned on successfully, after years of hibernation, at a distance of more than 600 million km from the Sun.
From source to sink: Meteorites from Mars have been known since the 1970’s, but researchers in Oslo, In Lyon, and at IAS have for the first time been able to identify the source crater for shergottites, the largest group of martian meteorites. The source region on Mars was probably impacted about 3 million years ago by a medium-size body, and the meteorites ended their space journey at the Earth’s surface a few thousand years ago.
After a 31 months hibernation phase, the ROSETTA spacecraft has woken up as scheduled on January 20th. After this critical milestone, the spacecraft will progressively get closer to the comet, then it will get into orbit (end of June) so as to map it and to select a landing site for the Philae lander, which will reach the surface of the nucleus in November. IAS has contributed to 3 experiments on board the orbiter and the lander.
Mars is a volcanic world, covered nearly entirely in basaltic rocks. While the planet's geological history remains elusive for lack of in-situ samples or probes of its internal structure, its uniform surface composition was thought to result from an unremarkable magmatic history. However, this is questioned by a recent study lead by ESO and IAS, which has revealed a new rock type on Mars.