Rosetta comet update Aug. 4 – Crags, flows and bowls

The sun is toward the bottom in this photo of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken from a distance of only 186 miles on August 3. Credit: Credits: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

The Rosetta spacecraft is now about the distance between Chicago, Ill. and Madison, Wis. or 150 miles from its target comet. Close enough to get there in under 3 hours in a car.

A fascinating ‘flow’ feature on Comet 9P/Tempel 1 photographed by the Deep Impact spacecraft. It measures 1.8 miles long by 0.6 miles wide and at least 65 feet deep. Credit: NASA

Look at all the new detail emerging in this latest photo taken yesterday Aug. 3. Very craggy. You can see lots of flat-floored craters along with some interesting smooth areas in the comet’s ‘neck’ and within the left edge of the smaller lobe. These could be flows of dust (ice-covered dust?) like those seen on Comet 9P/Tempel 1.  For more details on comet 67P’s alien landscape, check out this article I recently wrote for Universe Today.

Back in mid-July Rosetta used its visible, infrared and thermal imaging spectrometer (VIRTIS) to take the comet’s temperature. They got a reading of -94° F (-70 C) which confirmed to astronomers that the 67P’s surface is dusty.

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About astrobob

My name is Bob King and I work at the Duluth News Tribune in Duluth, Minn. as a photographer and photo editor. I'm also an amateur astronomer and have been keen on the sky since age 11. My modest credentials include membership in the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) where I'm a regular contributor, International Meteorite Collectors Assn. and Arrowhead Astronomical Society. I also teach community education astronomy classes at our local planetarium.

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