The Rosetta spacecraft was not the only object around Comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2015, according to a recent discovery.
Earlier this year, Spanish astrophotographer Jacint Roger was “eyeing” the images taken by Rosetta during the 67P observation and noticed a small orbital fragment in the records of 21 October 2015, when the spacecraft was about 400 kilometers from the comet.
Jacint Roger posted an animated GIF to his Twitter account last May, showing the movement of this newly identified object, which ESA dubbed "Churymoon".
According to the European Space Agency, the moon will only be about four meters wide and was once part of the 67P. “Rosetta's image modeling indicates that this object spent the first 12 hours after its ejection on an orbital path around the 67P at a distance of 2.4 to 3.9 km from the comet's center,” says the ESA team. .
After that, "the part crossed a portion of the coma, which looks very bright in the images, making it difficult to follow accurately; however, later observations on the opposite side of the coma confirm detection consistent with the object's orbit, providing an indication of its movement around the comet until October 23, 2015 ", explains.
Comets constantly eject debris as they approach the Sun. But Churymoon is special: "It's probably the largest detected portion around the comet and will be the subject of further investigation," ESA says.
Rosetta left Earth in 2004 with only one thing “in mind”: to chase and analyze comet 67P, a carefully studied celestial body that scientists believe hides clues to the genesis of our Solar System.
Only at the end of 2014 did he find his target and shortly after ejected his little Philae who traveled towards the 67P. This smaller probe captured the first images of the surface of a comet.
The 12-year journey that includes approaches to Earth, Mars, and two asteroids before it reached P67 came to an end in September 2016, when the ship was intentionally toppled to the surface of its "beloved."
See some of the best images from the mission: