Orbiting an Active Comet
25 September 2014

Fig. 1
This stunning image, acquired from a distance of only 28.6 km from Comet 67P, by the European Rosetta spacecraft, shows a variety of the comet’s surface terrain, including high cliffs, smooth areas and strewn boulders, and a jet of material, erupting close to image center.

Credits: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

The European Space Agency (ESA) recently published a wonderful photo (Fig. 1) of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P), acquired from orbit around this comet by the Rosetta spacecraft.

Fig. 1 is a mosaic composed of four images, taken on 19 September 2014, from a distance of only 28.6 km from the center of 67P. It shows various terrains on the comet, including steep cliffs towering over both smooth and grooved terrain, and numerous scattered boulders, and jets of material emanating from the ‘neck’ region between the two big lobes characterizing the shape of 67P, near image center.

Comets are small icy objects orbiting the Sun. When a comet approaches the Sun, it starts to sublimate, and its ices transform into vapors, forming glowing gaseous tails that may extend for hundreds of millions of kilometers. They are thought to be primitive objects, cosmic raw material, whose composition remains essentially unchanged, since the birth of the solar system. Therefore, by studying the chemical makeup of comets, scientists hope to gain insights into the formation and evolution of the solar system.

ESA Website

Aymen Mohamed Ibrahem
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