Topics: Astrophysics, Comets, ESA, NASA, Rosetta, Space Exploration, Women in Science
There is a movie coming out in 2017 called "Hidden Figures" about the African American women that were "computers" as they were all called at the time. Behind the scenes and out of notice (purposely) from the public eye, these scientists were responsible for mankind getting to the moon, despite what your conspiracy provocateur uncle spouts around the dinner table at Thanksgiving.
Dr. Claudia Alexander was a project scientist on the American portion of the international Rosetta mission. She sadly lost her battle with breast cancer last year. I always try to highlight such achievements since its obvious from a societal structural sense, negative stereotypes are often forwarded to maintain an inane "status quo" while simultaneously complaining about "bootstraps." I salute Dr. Alexander, a modern Hidden Figure in Science that paved the way for new discoveries by humankind.
Thanks to in situ measurements from MIDAS (the Micro-Imaging Dust Analysis System) on-board the Rosetta spacecraft, researchers have now found out more about the structure of the dust particles on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The particles are made up of aggregates and cover a range of sizes – from tens of microns to a few hundred nanometres. They also appear to have formed from the hierarchical assembly of smaller constituents and come in a range of shapes, from single grains to larger, porous aggregated particles with some dust grains being elongated. The study could shed more light on the processes that occurred when our Solar System formed nearly five billion years ago.
Planetary systems like our own Solar System started out as dust particles in protoplanetary nebulae – clouds of gas and dust that gave rise to stars and planets. The particles collided and agglomerated to form planetesimals – the building blocks of planets. Comets are leftover planetesimals and are made of ice and dust particles. They range in size from a few hundreds of metres to ten of kilometres and are mainly found on the outskirts of the Solar Systems, far from damaging radiation, high temperatures and collisions with other objects.
Rosetta’s MIDAS analyses cometary dust particles, Belle Dumé