Spinning space motion could cause neck to snap
ESA, Rosetta, MPS for OSIRIS Team, MPS, UPD, LAM, IAA, SSO, INTA, UPM, DASP, IDA
PASADENA, Calif. — It’s hard being a comet sometimes. Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is developing stress fractures and might break apart in the next several hundred years.
Comet 67P is famous for its oddball shape. With two lobes joined together at a neck, it vaguely resembles an interplanetary peanut. The Rosetta spacecraft, which ended its 26-month visit to the comet in September (SN Online: 9/29/16), noticed a large crack in the neck in 2014. After the comet made its closest approach to the sun in August 2015, the fissure grew by several hundred meters and new cracks appeared.