The British Geophysical Association


xkcd: Landing.

Rosetta… Countdown to landing

Rosetta is a robotic space probe built and launched by the European Space Agency to perform a detailed study of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. It was launched on 2 March 2004 on an Ariane 5 rocket and reached the comet on 6 August 2014. The spacecraft consists of two main elements: the Rosetta space probe orbiter, which features 12 instruments, and the Philae robotic lander, with an additional nine instruments.

As the comet 67P approaches the sun, it will start to heat up – the ice will turn to gas and escape from the comet, a process we currently know little about. The Rosetta orbiter and the Philae lander will observe the behaviour of the comet on its solar approach.


Visualisation of Philae on comet 67P

For the past few weeks, scientists have been studying 67P for viable landing sites for Philae. The final site selection has now taken place and landing is scheduled for the 12th of November. The location, dubbed Site J, on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, offers the greatest scientific promise and the least risk compared to other places under consideration.

Proposed landing sites

Proposed landing sites

To watch a video about the landing, see below:

New satellite maps out Napa Valley earthquake

Scientists have used a new Earth-observation satellite called Sentinel-1A to map the ground movements caused by the earthquake that shook up California’s wine-producing Napa Valley on 24 August 2014.

“This satellite represents a sea change in the way we will be able to monitor catastrophic events, such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, due to its systematic observation strategy.” – Professor Andy Hooper, COMET

This is the first earthquake to be mapped by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) new satellite and demonstrates the capabilities of the Centre for the Observation and Modelling of Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Tectonics (COMET) in analysing its observations quickly.

For more information, see the full blog post here.

Iain Stewart – Anatomy of an Earthquake

NERC has teamed up with BBC presenter Professor Iain Stewart and Shadow Industries, a Bristol-based production company, to create a new short film called ‘Anatomy of an Earthquake’.

The film uses graphics to provide an introduction to the physical causes of earthquakes, and what happens when a seismic hazard deep beneath the Earth’s surface meets a vulnerable city above. It also asks how we can prepare our mega-cities for a direct seismic strike, as people around the world flock to urban centres.

“Earthquakes are one of the planet’s most lethal natural forces”

The film was created with the GCSE and A’ Level curricula in mind, and is intended as a new resource to introduce students to the topic.

It was created in partnership with NERC’s British Geological Survey and Earthquakes without Frontiers, a programme jointly funded by NERC and the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) to improve understanding of the physical and social factors that cause vulnerability to earthquakes on continental interiors.

Deep Earth Processes

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