The fluffy sodium-rich dust coating on the Rosetta comet is being shed as it comes in closer to the Sun.
Researchers, writing in the journal Nature, say the comet’s coat is coming off due to solar radiation, revealing an icy layer beneath.
Analysis of dust collected from comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko reveals that the dusty crust will be lost as the comet comes closer to the Sun.
Rita Schulz of the European Space Agency, Noordwijk, Netherlands, and colleagues say these properties indicate that the grains may be the origin of interplanetary dust particles.
Last year Rosetta, a first-of-its-kind spacecraft on a mission to meet a comet, landed on the comet and will stick with it for the next year.
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