Researchers this week with the European Space Agency (ESA) may have discovered how comets can remain so cold with the revelation of molecular nitrogen being found on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, but now they need to figure out their movements. 

For the past few months, the ESA's Rosetta Mission has been tailing the famous Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko with many answers at the core of its research. While in orbit the mission has been able to gather an immense amount of data, creating a never-before-seen view of comets as the first spacecraft to ever successfully orbit one in our history. But while orbiting the comet, researchers with the ESA have discovered a few inconsistencies that happen in the blink of an eye.

On average it takes the ball of ice and rock 12.4 hours to complete a full rotation around its axis. But it appears that as Comet 67P becomes more active this rotation is extended by almost a second every day. And while it may not seem like much, these small variations indicate to astronomers that it's gearing up for a new phase in its 'life cycle'.

"The gas jets coming out of the comet-they are acting like thrusters and are slowing down the comet" ESA flight director for the Rosetta mission, Andrea Accomazzo says. Speaking this week at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London, Accomazzo revealed the dynamic comet's behavior, but also said that it won't be anything drastic anytime soon. Rather, by being able to pinpoint that the rotation of the comet is not aligning with models, with a 33 millisecond delay per day, the researchers with the ESA are able to show just how invested they are in the record-breaking Rosetta mission, and just how accurate they can be.

"Okay, it's not going to slow down completely-but this gives you an order of magnitude for the accuracy we're now achieving with the navigation of the spacecraft around the comet" Accomazzo says."

What other revelations did the ESA astronomers make this week with Comet 67P?

Through methods of spectroscopy available on the Rosetta orbiter, this week researchers revealed the discovery of molecular nitrogen trapped within the ice on the surface of Comet 67P. While the ESA cannot gather immense amounts of data from the surface, since its Philae lander went dormant after a series of technical errors, the discovery of the essential element trapped within the ice allows researchers to reasonably posit not only the origins of the comet, but also why it has been able to remain so cold.

"Its detection is particularly important since molecular nitrogen is thought to have been the most common type of nitrogen available when the solar system was forming" spokespersons with the ESA say. "In the colder outer regions, it likely provided the main source of nitrogen that was incorporated into the gas planets."

"It also dominates the dense atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan and is present in the atmospheres and surface ices on Pluto and [on] Neptune's moon Triton."

Publishing their results in the journal Science, the researchers say that the ice on Comet 67P could have trapped the molecular nitrogen at a temperature of minus 423 degrees Fahrenheit, which would not be too far-fetched considering that the comet formed in the same region of space as Triton and Pluto, but still would indicate that perhaps other planets formed under these below freezing temperatures as well.