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More on the comet sinkholes! New data from Rosetta has now confirmed that some of the plumes or jets that the spacecraft has seen emanating from Comet 67P/C-G come directly from the sinkholes that they have discovered on the nucleus.
In a study reported today in the science journal Nature, 18 quasi-circular pits have been identified in the northern hemisphere of the comet, some of which are the source of continuing activity. The pits are a few tens to a few hundreds of metres in diameter and extend up to 210 m below the surface to a smooth dust-covered floor. Material is seen to be streaming from the most active pits. “We see jets arising from the fractured areas of the walls inside the pits. These fractures mean that volatiles trapped under the surface can be warmed more easily and subsequently escape into space,” says Jean-Baptiste Vincent from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, lead author of the study.