Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko closest to the Sun today, Aug 13 2015

Outburst in action
A short-lived outburst from Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on 29 July 2015. The jet lasted barely 30 minutes. Image © ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA.

As Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko reaches its closest point to the Sun, perihelion, on August 13, its activity is increasing. This short lived jet was spotted by the narrow angle camera on board ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft. Heating from the Sun, and the rotation of previously dark areas into sunlight result in an increased release of dust and gas as the comet approaches the Sun. From Earth comets are often most easily seen after their “perihelion passage”.

The gas released is mostly carbon-dioxide. But many other organic molecules are also released. What would it smell like? The smell has been described as a combination of: rotten-egg smell, horse-stable odor, almond and vinegar!

If you want to experience the smell for yourself book in for Warwick Holmes full-sensory presentation, “Philae and the Rosetta Comet Encounter” during Sydney Science Festival at the Powerhouse Museum, Thursday August 20.

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