Comet 67P / Churiumov-Gerasimenko has its own aurora borealis, as recorded by instruments of the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) aboard a European mission.
The discovery was made by the Rosetta mission of the European Space Agency (ESA), launched in March 2004 with the aim of investigating the composition and characteristics of this comet, which can provide information on the formation of the solar system. The find, observed for the first time outside of other planets or a moon, was published in the journal Nature Astronomy and shared by NASA.
Ultraviolet auras are common at Earth’s poles, and have also been seen on Jupiter, on the moons of Saturn, Uranus, and Mars, but have never been recorded on a comet.
Rosetta orbited around 67P / Churiumov-Gerasimenko during 2014 and 2015, and sent a Philae lander to its surface. On September 30, 2016, the spacecraft made its last descent maneuver to collide with the comet, which allowed it to study the gas, dust and plasma environment closest to the comet’s surface, as well as to capture high-resolution images.