Comet 67P from 1000 k

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67P from 1000 kilometers

Above is a new image of Comet 67P as seen from about 1000 kilometers, or about 620 miles, released by the Rosetta science team today. The image was taken on August 1 and has been processed somewhat to bring out the details. The black spot near the junction between the nucleus’s two sections is not real but an artifact of the camera’s CCD.

This image is the first real clear and sharp look at the nucleus, and what it shows us is a surface quite different from the many other asteroids that science probes have imaged close-up in the past. From this angle there are far few craters visible then is normally seen on asteroids, and the surface has complex roughness and pitted look that I suspect the planetary geologists are right now scratching their heads about and waving their arms trying to explain. My first guess, which no one should take too seriously, is that as material vents off the comet when it gets close to the Sun it leaves behind these scars.

One more thing: If you go here you can see a number of additional image releases in the last 24 hours, all fascinating. This link explains that the features that looked like craters in earlier images were actually artifacts from the camera’s CCD.


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