Getting real close to Comet 67P/C-G

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Close-up of Comet 67P/C-G

Cool image time! As Comet 67P/C-G moves away from the sun and cools down, the Rosetta science team has been able to move the spacecraft back in close to the comet. The image on the right was taken on March 5 from only 12.6 miles above the comet’s surface, and has a resolution of 14 inches per pixel.

I have brightened the image and cropped it to show it here. At this scale, if they managed to photograph the location where Philae sits we would see it with no problem at all. As it is, the detail is remarkable. For example, look at the slope below the cliff in the lower right. You can see what look like a very faint series of terraces, suggesting the existence of onion-like layers below the surface.

Go to the link. There is a second high resolution image there that is as amazing.



  • Perry Phillipos

    What “look like a very faint series of terraces, suggesting the existence of onion-like layers below the surface” looks to me like nothing more than slumping of the above material. Look at the incipient slumping and the cracks just above the cliff.

  • Okay, I think you are right. Either way, the detail of these images will allow geologists (which I freely admit I am not) to get a reasonable handle of the geological processes that are reshaping the comet’s surface.

  • David M. Cook

    Whenever I see terraces I think of ancient lakes, with changing liquid levels giving a variety of shorelines. Any chance there were ever pools of liquid on the surface of 67P/C-G?

  • No chance of liquid, but the dust, when piled up enough, will almost act like a liquid in some ways. Some of the flat areas are believed to essentially be ponds of dust that have settled into place.

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