« Last post by Wook on October 24, 2014, 10:29:18 PM »
Re: Rosetta pursuit - did we get there first ?
« Reply #48 on: Today at 09:01:53 PM »
Rosetta comet reeks of rotten eggs urine and noxious fumes.
Friday, October 24, 2014, 3:19 PM - Comets may be pretty to look at, and scientifically fascinating, but according to what the Rosetta spacecraft has detected wafting off of Comet 67P, they apparently really stink up the place.
The ESA's Rosetta spacecraft is a robotic mission, so there's none on board to actually smell what the comet is 'dealing', of course. Also, even if there was someone along for the already 10+ year ride, taking their helmet off for a whiff wouldn't be a great idea anyway. However, ever since the spacecraft arrived at the comet, in early August, it has been watching the plumes rising from the surface with the mass spectrometers of its Rosetta Orbiter Sensor for Ion and Neutral Analysis (ROSINA) instrument.
Mixed in with the gases already detected coming off comet as of early September, like water, carbon dioxide, methane, ammonia and methanol, the instrument has picked up the spectral fingerprints of hydrogen sulphide, sulphur dioxide, carbon disulphide and formaldehyde. If you combined that all together into an 'Eau de Comet' from 67P, it wouldn't exactly be a best-selling fragrance.
"The perfume of 67P/C-G is quite strong, with the odor of rotten eggs (hydrogen sulphide), horse stable (ammonia), and the pungent, suffocating odor of formaldehyde," Kathrin Altwegg, principal investigator for the ROSINA instrument at the University of Bern, said in the blog post. "This is mixed with the faint, bitter, almond-like aroma of hydrogen cyanide. Add some whiff of alcohol (methanol) to this mixture, paired with the vinegar-like aroma of sulphur dioxide and a hint of the sweet aromatic scent of carbon disulphide, and you arrive at the 'perfume' of our comet."