Ukrainian astronomer and famous comet researcher Klim Churyumov dies at 79

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By Joanna Gill
Ukrainian astronomer and famous comet researcher Klim Churyumov dies at 79

The world of astronomy has lost one of its stars.

Soviet-Ukrainian astronomer Klim Churyumov has died aged 79. According to Ukrainian media, he had been travelling to Kharkiv when he died unexpectedly.

He is the man who discovered comet 67P -Churyumov-Gerasimenko with astronomer Svetlana Gerasimenko in 1969.

It was the comet which would later be the subject of the Rosetta space mission.

He followed the mission from its launch in 2004 to the moment the philae lander successfully touched down the comet’s surface after a 10-year 4-billion mile chase.

The end of the mission came just two weeks ago, when the Rosetta probe crash landed into the comet.

The data collected during the mission could shed light on the evolution of the solar system, and how life began on Earth.

He had been one of the contenders for a collective Nobel prize this year.

Space agencies and space enthusiasts paid tribute to him on Twitter.

Born in Nikolaev, Ukraine 1937, he went to study physics at Kyiv University. Not getting onto the course he wanted, he ended up by accident be moving to the faculty of astronomy. He began studying comets under Professor Sergej K. Vsekhsvyatski, a renowned comet researcher. He went on to research new comets alongside Svetlana Gerisamenko making the discovery of comet 67P in 1969.

Later in his life he became Director of the Kyiv planetarium. He has authored around 1,000 scientific papers as well as several popular text books. He also authored children’s prose, publishing several volumes between 1999 and 2002.