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For centuries astronomers have chased comets across the skies, looking for clues as to the origins of our solar system. Tugged from deep-space by the gravity of the sun, they shed dust and gas as they warm, revealing some of their secrets within. Beguiling and bewildering in equal measure these celestial visitors continue to hold the fascination of today’s stargazers. In this edition of Space we talk to some top European scientists striving to unravel the mysteries of comets, As a starting point Hermann Böhnhardt, Senior Research Scientist, at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research put comets into perspective: “A comet is a piece of rock and ice, mixed together, roughly to imagine, something like Mont Blanc, or one of the larger mountains in the Alps – that is the size of a comet.”Frozen within this rocky mass are secrets about our own origins, according to Gerhard Schwehm, Cometary Scientist at the European Space Agency: “Comets are interesting for a lot of reasons and one reason we are looking- and it’s the most fascinating reason- is ‘have comets played a role to bring life onto Earth’?”At the University of Bern the research is a little more down to Earth, and somewhat unusual. Here, they make their own comets in the laboratory. Professor of Experimental Physics Nicolas Thomas talked us through the steps: “First of all we need to create a sort of a liquid, and so we’re mixing 50% of our comet, that is this water ice, we’re mixing it now with a little bit of liquid nitrogen. And we’re using carbon black – it’s finely divided carbon particles. And now we do some comet cooking.“Now the liquid nitrogen is currently sitting at around minus 200 degrees centigrade, and that’s keeping the water ice from evaporating and keeping it from sticking together. What we do now is that we tip the mixture into a sort of a mould…...and that is a fake comet, ready for experimental studies.”While replicating the conditions of a comet in the laboratory undoubtedly...