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Saturday 20 September 2014

Comet probe makes surprise find

Published 17/07/2014 | 13:28

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A narrow-angle image of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as the European Space Agency's Rosetta probe caught the first glimpse of its quarry

Scientists say a space probe aiming to become the first to land on a comet has taken images that appear to show its target could be two separate lumps of rock and ice flying in tandem.

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The pictures released in Berlin were taken by the European Space Agency's Rosetta probe, which is nearing the final stage of its decade-long mission to rendezvous with and drop a lander on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

The landing is planned for November.

Mission scientist Matt Taylor said the images shot from several thousand miles away show 67P is shaped like "a strange-looking potato".

He says this could mean the comet is a so-called contact binary composed of two distinct parts, or that it is one unit deformed by its passage past Jupiter or the sun.

Press Association

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