Comets can provide an incredible amount of information on the origin and evolution of the Solar System. The composition of comets contain pristine records of the pre-solar nebula out of which the Sun and the planets of the Solar System formed more than 4.6 billion years ago. Comets may also play a key role in the evolution of the planets, possibly supplying the Earth with water and complex organic molecules during the early, chaotic stages of the Solar System. SwRI is one of the international partners on the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission to analyze in-depth the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as it travels into the inner Solar System. Along with providing knowledge of the early Solar System, comets also have unique interactions with the plasma streaming away from the Sun’s atmosphere, known as the Solar Wind, and provided early evidence of the origin of that plasma. Understanding the composition and origin of comets, as well as the environment in space around comets, are key goals of cometary physics.
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