This is a drawing of what the surface of a comet might look like.
Click on image for full size
The Comet Nucleus
A comet nucleus is the very center of the comet. It is solid and is made of
a special sort of dust which scientists call "fluffy". They call it fluffy because it is full of holes and could be very light.
At this point, scientists do not know whether the nucleus is very hard, like solid ground, or very soft, like a snowball.
Scientists are going to use the Rosetta mission to land a probe on the surface of a comet! This and other comet missions will certainly help scientists understand the very center of comets!
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
on science education, classroom activities in The Earth Scientist
specimens, and educational games
You might also be interested in:
This example of Interstellar Dust is a perfect example of the kind of rocky material comets may be made of. The grains themselves seem to be made of smaller grains. There are many holes, or pores. In a...more
The pictures on this page show the nucleus of a comet. These are the best pictures ever made of the nucleus of a comet. The nucleus of a comet is a big lump of ice and dust. This one is about five kilometers...more
Comet Hale-Bopp was one of the brightest comets of all time. Astronomers witnessed the comet spew out intermittent bursts of dust. The surface seemed to be an incredibly dynamic place, with 'vents' being...more
NASA’s Comet Nucleus Tour (called CONTOUR) launched July 3, 2002. The CONTOUR spacecraft will fly by at least two comets. It will take pictures and collect dust from the nucleus of each comet. Learning...more
We are sad to report that CONTOUR is lost in space. The CONTOUR spacecraft was launched July 3, 2002 to explore the nucleus of comets. It was to take pictures and catch dust from the nucleus of at least...more
Stardust is the name of a space mission that studied a comet. Stardust flew very close to the comet in January 2004. It took some very good pictures of the nucleus of the comet. It also grabbed some dust...more
Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko was discovered in 1969. It is named after the two scientists who found it, Klim Churyumov and Svetlana Gerasimenko. The comet goes around the Sun once every 6.57 years. The...more