The scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA), who are behind the comet-chasing mission Rosetta, on Tuesday announced that the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has no magnetic field.
The new findings could offer key insight into the formation of heavenly bodies like planets and comets in the early development stages.
Last November, the Rosetta’s Philae Lander probe gathered data from its multiple landings and discovered that the comet’s surface is not magnetized.
Detailing the new findings of the Rosetta probe, study lead author Hans-Ulrich Alster said, “If the surface was magnetized, we would have expected to see a clear increase in the magnetic field readings as we got closer and closer to the surface. But this was not the case at any of the locations we visited, so we conclude that Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is a remarkably nonmagnetic object.”
The landing of the probe was not at all smooth. It took four attempts and experienced a grazing collision along the way. The scientists said that it is likely the complexity of the landing that made them believe that the comet lacks a magnetized core.
Several ascents and descents permitted the team to carry out the comparison of the measurements to and from the various points of contact along the surface of the comet.
The Philae Lander, which is similar in size of a washing machine and weighs nearly 220 pounds, had sufficient stored battery life permitting 60 hours of experiments. It sent back the results on the Earth on November 15. The scientists believe the finding could assist in clarifying how bodies like planets and comets are formed in the early stages since it might help in ruling out magnetic forces.
Matthew Taylor, Rosetta project scientist at the European Space Agency, said, “It’s a massively important finding and a key thing we wanted to measure. That Churyumov-Gerasimenko does not have a magnetic field could help us solve the puzzle of how planetary building blocks evolved from the proto-planetary disk. It appears we will have to switch off the effect of magnetism in simulations of the beginning.”
The Philae lander is presently in the hibernation mode for the purpose of preserving of its battery. But it could reboot by the May-end. This intends to say that communication could be established likely by the end of June and the battery charging starting again in July.
The findings were reported by the European Space Agency in the journal Science and further presented at the European Geosciences Union in Vienna.