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Mission can find key to life on Earth.

Byline: ANALYSIS BY ZOE BAILY, EXPERT FROM THE NATIONAL SPACE CENTRE, LEICS

WE believe comets were formed around 4.6 billion years ago, alongside the birth of our solar system.

It is thought that comets have remained relatively unchanged since they were first formed, and so studying them helps us build a picture of the conditions in the early stages of the solar system.

Having formed at long distances away from the sun, a comet's nucleus is made primarily of ice.

SECRETS Impacts of these comets on to the surface of an early Earth may have delivered water and the essential building blocks of life to our planet.

Studying comets could help unlock secrets about how the solar system, our planet and life on Earth began.

Throughout the next year, Rosetta will become the first ever spacecraft to observe from such a close vantage point what happens to an icy comet as it warms up during its closest approach to the sun.

Rosetta's probe, Philae, will become the first craft ever to land on a comet and conduct in-situ experiments on a comet's surface.

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STUDY Space Centre, Leics

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 7, 2014
Words:190
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