67P from less than 200 miles


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67P on August 3

Today’s Rosetta image of Comet 67P, shown above, gives us a different angle of the comet. The spacecraft was only 186 miles (300 kilometers) away when it snapped the picture, and this side view emphasizes the nucleus’s jagged shape.

I am reminded of what happens to a block of ice when you spray warm water on it. It begins to melt away, but very randomly and unevenly, producing very weird shapes and the surface evaporates off. In the case of Comet 67P, the nucleus is a dirty ball of ice, and the Sun’s rays have been causing its surface to evaporate off every time it approaches the Sun. Thus, we get a very weird shape.

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