Image: Rosetta spies comet surface variations

August 18, 2014
Image of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko shows the diversity of surface structures on the comet's nucleus. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

A new image of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko shows the diversity of surface structures on the comet's nucleus. It was taken by the Rosetta spacecraft's OSIRIS narrow-angle camera on August 7, 2014. At the time, the spacecraft was 65 miles (104 kilometers) away from the 2.5-mile-wide (4-kilometer) nucleus.

In the image, the 's head (in the top half of the image) exhibits parallel linear features that resemble cliffs, and its neck displays scattered boulders on a relatively smooth, slumping surface. In comparison, the comet's body (lower half of the image) seems to exhibit a multi-variable terrain with peaks and valleys, and both smooth and rough topographic features.

A 3-D version of the image depicting the comet is available at:

Launched in March 2004, Rosetta was reactivated in January 2014 after a record 957 days in hibernation. Composed of an orbiter and lander, Rosetta's objectives are to study comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko up close in unprecedented detail, prepare for landing a probe on the comet's nucleus in November, and track its changes as it sweeps past the sun.

Explore further: Comet-chasing probe closes in on target

Related Stories

Comet-chasing probe closes in on target

July 2, 2014

A comet-chasing spacecraft on a mission to land on a fizzing ball of ice and dust later this year has begun a crucial slow-down maneuver to avoid flying past its target.

Image: Rosetta's target up close

August 7, 2014

( —Close up detail focusing on a smooth region on the 'base' of the 'body' section of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The image was taken by Rosetta's Onboard Scientific Imaging System (OSIRIS) on August 6, 2014. ...

Recommended for you

What are white holes?

October 9, 2015

Black holes are created when stars die catastrophically in a supernova. So what in the universe is a white hole?

A mission to a metal world—The Psyche mission

October 9, 2015

In their drive to set exploration goals for the future, NASA's Discovery Program put out the call for proposals for their thirteenth Discovery mission in February 2014. After reviewing the 27 initial proposals, a panel of ...

Image: Pluto's blue sky

October 9, 2015

Pluto's haze layer shows its blue color in this picture taken by the New Horizons Ralph/Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC). The high-altitude haze is thought to be similar in nature to that seen at Saturn's moon ...

How to prepare for Mars? NASA consults Navy sub force

October 5, 2015

As NASA contemplates a manned voyage to Mars and the effects missions deeper into space could have on astronauts, it's tapping research from another outfit with experience sending people to the deep: the U.S. Navy submarine ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (4) Aug 18, 2014
This is how this comet would appear while sitting at the surface of Earth. It has a density of urethane mattress, so it's not so heavy as it looks at the first sight.
5 / 5 (4) Aug 18, 2014
And this is how 67P would appear next to a Borg Cube and a Galaxy Class Starship:,fl_progressive,q_80,w_636/kyo6uxavddzmv5gpudxh.jpg

More size comparisons here: http://space.io9....17103535
5 / 5 (3) Aug 19, 2014
I'm in awe of the effort involved to bring us pictures of the surface of a comet, incredible work by all involved.
5 / 5 (1) Aug 19, 2014
It has a density of urethane mattress, ...
100 kg m^-3?

I sleep on a urethane mattress roughly 1 m^3 and move it to sunlight annually with some difficulty due to its flexibility, not for weighing 100 kg.
Aug 19, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
5 / 5 (2) Aug 19, 2014
The 3D image linked in the text is neat. At first I thought it would be best to land in the 'cored' part...but looking at the 3D image the sides of that look extremely steep (which might lead to frequent loss of radio contact with the lander...though I'm not sure that is a knock-out criterium).

Still wondering how that particular geometry formed.

More size comparisons here: http://space.io9....17103535

Looks about perfect for the space slug.
5 / 5 (2) Aug 19, 2014
Watch this neat video that shows how Rosetta is making its approach of 67P. https://www.youtu...zsACcXc4 The fancy triangle dance at the beginning is to study the gravitational field of the comet before getting into orbit.
1 / 5 (1) Aug 19, 2014
Excuse me, but that is not urethane foam, it is not a dirty snowball, it is a BFR, a big rock with the center gnawed away. Look at it!
not rated yet Aug 19, 2014
IMO it's the free pile of two large chondrite boulders (and two-three smaller ones), connected with thick but sparse layer of voluminous regolite dust. The radar picture could make this fact more evident.
not rated yet Aug 23, 2014
Two roughly spherical and lumps of stuff bumped gently. The top rock partially broke into gravel and dust then fell, leaving traces of a landslide. Striations show the direction of flow was more influenced by local gravity than by the momentum of the collision.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.