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Atom & Cosmos

Moons may be common, plus transforming neutrinos, new comet images and more in this week’s news

5:31pm, June 21, 2011

Rosetta captures first comet image
The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission, set to become the first craft to observe a comet close up for an extended period of time, has taken its first images of Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. At a distance of 163 million kilometers,from the craft, the comet appears only as a faint point of light, but the glimpse confirms that the onboard camera is operating. Rosetta won’t catch a second look at this pristine relic from the solar system’s formation for another 31 months, when the solar-fueled craft awakens from an energy-conserving period of hibernation that began June 8. In November 2014, the craft will release a small lander onto the comet’s icy nucleus. —Ron Cowen

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