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.