This artist's concept shows the European Space Agency's Rosetta Orbiter with its target, comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The spacecraft carries the Microwave Instrument for the Rosetta Orbiter, or MIRO, instrument, which will measure gasses given off by the comet. Image credit: ESA
› Larger view
Flying aboard the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft, the NASA-built Microwave Instrument for the Rosetta Orbiter, or MIRO, will study gases given off by comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko when the spacecraft goes into orbit around the object in January 2014.
The instrument will measure the amounts of carbon monoxide, ammonia, methanol and oxygen leaving the comet, which will show how comet materials change from ice to gas, and will help determine temperature changes as the comet approaches the sun.