Rosetta craft's comet landing to reveal secrets of solar system's origin and evolution
Rosetta craft, which was woken up from its slumber recently, aims to deal with the origin and evolution of the solar system.
University of Michigan scientists will make a unique contribution that could provide very practical insights into how the Sun and planets interface today.
They'll analyze measurements taken at the comet to study solar wind interactions that can lead to solar storms. The solar wind is a stream of charged particles emanating from the Sun. Solar storms are bursts of activity that can threaten astronauts and damage Earth's satellites and electric grid.
Tamas Gombosi, the Rollin M. Gerstacker Professor of Engineering in the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences, said how the solar wind operates is one of the biggest outstanding questions about the solar system today.
He said that by studying how it interacts with cometary gases, we can learn a lot about the composition of the solar wind.
At the Sun's equator, the wind travels rather slowly, Gombosi said. It moves faster at high latitudes. Interactions between the two varieties can lead to magnetospheric storms.
Earth orbits near the equator, so it's hard to study the fast wind from our vantage point.
Gombosi said that comets pass through all of it, and with their help, they can study the fast solar wind.
(Posted on 17-01-2014)