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Hellions of the solar system

17 Jan 2019, 09:30 UTC
Hellions of the solar system
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Comets and asteroids are the fireworks of the solar system. Ancient, mysterious, captivating, they can dazzle the night sky or bring extinctions to life on Earth. They’re like your cousin Eddie who comes to visit every so often, full of merriment and mirth, somewhat unpredictable, always with the potential to leave the household askew or in tatters.
In Catching Stardust: Comets, Asteroids and the Birth of the Solar System, Natalie Starkey shares her fascination with these visitors from beyond, detailing how scientists study comets and asteroids to understand the 4.6-billion-year history of the solar system. That history has been unfolding its wings in the last few decades, thanks to remote missions such as NASA’s Stardust, which flew from 1999 to 2016 and returned a small capsule to Earth. There has also been Rosetta, a European Space Agency voyage that ran from 2004 to 2016 and was the first to land on a comet and analyse it in situ. Catching Stardust explains what we know about these objects and how, as well as why it matters – comets may well have brought life to Earth and have nearly ended it more than once. The book also looks at what the future ...

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