Comet landscape: Exploring Imhotep

January 25, 2016
Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

This beautiful landscape feels within arm's reach in this stunning view across the Imhotep region on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

The view was captured by Rosetta's OSIRIS narrow-angle camera on 17 January 2016, from a distance of 86.8 km. Measuring 3.2 km across, it captures one of the most geologically diverse areas of the .

Imhotep is perhaps most easily identified by the broad smooth area that occupies the centre-right portion of this view. This smooth dusty terrain, which covers about 0.8 sq km, is etched with curvilinear features stretching hundreds of metres and which have been found to change in appearance over time.

Many large boulders are also seen scattered within the smooth terrain, including the boulder Cheops in the foreground. Smaller but more numerous boulders are associated with exposed cliff faces and are most likely the product of erosion. In some debris falls, detailed analysis has revealed the presence of water ice.

Particularly eye-catching is the distinctive layered and fractured material to the left of centre in the background. Similar patterns are also seen in the exposed cliff-like faces towards the right of the scene too, where Imhotep transitions into the Khepry region.

Layers like this are seen in various locations on the comet and scientists are trying to understand how they might be related to the comet's formation and/or evolution.

Just in front of the prominent left-hand stack of layers a number of small round features can be found. They have a well-defined rim with a smooth interior and appear slightly raised from the surrounding material. One explanation for their appearance is that they are ancient sites of active regions covered by dust and are now being revealed by varying erosion of the overlying layers.

Further in the foreground again and a relatively smooth 'pathway' appears to lead towards a more consolidated summit. To the left of this path is the Ash region, while the sheer apex at the top left of the view marks the boundary with Apis.

Use the comet viewer tool to aid navigation around the comet's regions.

Explore further: Inside Imhotep

Related Stories

Inside Imhotep

July 21, 2015

Imhotep is located close to the comet's equator and is relatively flat compared to the overall shape of the nucleus. It caught the attention of scientists on the approach to the comet with its broad smooth area, covering ...

Rosetta gets a peek at Comet 67P's "underside"

January 22, 2015

A particularly dramatic view of comet 67P/C-G due to the angle of solar illumination, this is a mosaic made from four images acquired by Rosetta's NavCam on January 16, 2015, from a distance of 28.4 km (17.6 miles). The assembled ...

Image: Rosetta spies comet surface variations

August 18, 2014

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 ...

Comet surface changes before Rosetta's eyes

September 22, 2015

In the months leading to the perihelion of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Rosetta scientists have been witnessing dramatic and rapid surface changes on the Imhotep region, as reported in a paper to be published in Astronomy ...

Water ice found on the surface of comet 67P

January 14, 2016

For the first time, scientists have spotted large patches of water ice on the surface of a comet, thanks to instruments aboard the European Space Agency's Rosetta orbiter.

Recommended for you

Eclipse 2017: Science from the moon's shadow

December 11, 2017

On Dec. 11, 2017, six researchers discussed initial findings based on observations of the Sun and on Earth gathered during the solar eclipse that stretched across North America on Aug. 21, 2017. Ranging from new information ...

Unravelling the mysteries of extragalactic jets

December 11, 2017

University of Leeds researchers have mathematically examined plasma jets from supermassive black holes to determine why certain types of jets disintegrate into huge plumes.

The initial mass function

December 11, 2017

The gas and dust in giant molecular clouds gradually come together under the influence of gravity to form stars. Precisely how this occurs, however, is incompletely understood. The mass of a star, for example, is by far the ...

0 comments

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.