OSIRIS images of Rosetta’s comet resolve structures at 100 metres pixel scale
Rubber duckie has a collar! At least this is what the surface structures of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko look like in new images of taken by Rosetta’s onboard scientific imaging system OSIRIS. The resolution of these images is now 100 meters per pixel. One of the most striking features is currently found in the comet’s "neck" region. This part of 67P seems to be brighter than the rest of the nucleus.
Close-ups: Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko imaged on July 20th, 2014 from a distance of approximately 5500 kilometres. The three images were taken 2 hours apart.
© ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
As earlier images had already shown, 67P may consist of two parts: a smaller head connected to a larger body. The connecting region, the neck, is proving to be especially intriguing. “The only thing we know for sure at this point is that this neck region appears brighter compared to the head and body of the nucleus”, says OSIRIS Principal Investigator Holger Sierks from the Max-Planck-Institute for Solar System Research in Germany. This collar-like appearance could be caused by differences in material or grain size or could be a topographical effect.
Even though the images taken from a distance of 5500 kilometers are still not highly resolved, the scientists feel remotely reminded of comet 103P/Hartley. This body was visited in a flyby by NASA’s EPOXI mission in 2010. While Hartley’s ends show a rather rough surface, its middle is much smoother. Scientists believe this waist to be a gravitational low: since it contains the body’s center of mass, emitted material that cannot leave the comet’s gravitational field is most likely to be re-deposited there.
Whether this also holds true for 67P’s neck region is still unclear. Another explanation for the high reflectivity could be a different surface composition. In the next weeks the OSIRIS teams hopes to analyze the spectral data of this region obtained with the help of the imaging system’s filters. These can select several wavelength regions from the reflected light allowing to identify the characteristic fingerprints of certain materials and compositional features.
At the same time, the team is currently modelling the comet’s three-dimensional shape from the camera data. Such a model can help to get a better impression of the body’s shape.
Rosetta is an ESA mission with contributions from its member states and NASA. Rosetta's Philae lander is provided by a consortium led by DLR, MPS, CNES and ASI. Rosetta will be the first mission in history to rendezvous with a comet, escort it as it orbits the Sun, and deploy a lander to its surface.
The scientific imaging system OSIRIS was built by a consortium led by the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (Germany) in collaboration with CISAS, University of Padova (Italy), the Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille (France), the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucia, CSIC (Spain), the Scientific Support Office of the European Space Agency (The Netherlands), the Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (Spain), the Universidad Politéchnica de Madrid (Spain), the Department of Physics and Astronomy of Uppsala University (Sweden), and the Institute of Computer and Network Engineering of the TU Braunschweig (Germany). OSIRIS was financially supported by the national funding agencies of Germany (DLR), France (CNES), Italy (ASI), Spain (MEC), and Sweden (SNSB) and the ESA Technical Directorate.
Dr. Holger Sierks | Max-Planck-Institute
Telescopes team up to find distant Uranus-sized planet through microlensing
31.07.2015 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
California 'rain debt' equal to average full year of precipitation
31.07.2015 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Using ultracold atoms trapped in light crystals, scientists from the MPQ, LMU, and the Weizmann Institute observe a novel state of matter that never thermalizes.
What happens if one mixes cold and hot water? After some initial dynamics, one is left with lukewarm water—the system has thermalized to a new thermal...
Physicists from Regensburg and Marburg, Germany have succeeded in taking a slow-motion movie of speeding electrons in a solid driven by a strong light wave. In the process, they have unraveled a novel quantum phenomenon, which will be reported in the forthcoming edition of Nature.
The advent of ever faster electronics featuring clock rates up to the multiple-gigahertz range has revolutionized our day-to-day life. Researchers and...
Researchers have developed an ultrafast light-emitting device that can flip on and off 90 billion times a second and could form the basis of optical computing.
Joint BioEnergy Institute study identifies bacterial protein that is key to protecting rice against bacterial blight
A bacterial signal that when recognized by rice plants enables the plants to resist a devastating blight disease has been identified by a multi-national team...
Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin are one step closer to delivering smart windows with a new level of energy efficiency, engineering materials that allow windows to reveal light without transferring heat and, conversely, to block light while allowing heat transmission, as described in two new research papers.
By allowing indoor occupants to more precisely control the energy and sunlight passing through a window, the new materials could significantly reduce costs for...
23.07.2015 | Event News
10.07.2015 | Event News
25.06.2015 | Event News
31.07.2015 | Trade Fair News
31.07.2015 | Transportation and Logistics
31.07.2015 | Physics and Astronomy