The approaching perihelion of Comet 67P/C-G

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The Rosetta science team has prepared a FAQ outlining what we should expect next month as Comet 67P/C-G reaches and passes its closest point to the Sun, with Rosetta (and hopefully Philae) there to watch.

The most interesting detail they note is this:

Will the comet break apart during perihelion?

The comet has not broken apart during its many previous orbits, so it is not expected to do so this time, but it cannot be ruled out. Scientists are keen to watch the possible evolution of a 500 m-long fracture that runs along the surface of the neck on the comet during the peak activity.

You can see an image from Rosetta that shows this fracture here. As I wrote then,

The biggest fracture line appears to be a meandering line that is traveling from the image’s top center to its mid-right. There also appear to be parallel lines below it. As we are looking at the nucleus’s neck, these lines suggest that the connection between the two large lobes is somewhat strained, and that it is not unlikely that these two sections will break apart at some time in the future. Though there is no way to predict at this time when that will happen, it will be truly exciting if it happens when Rosetta is in the neighborhood.

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