A stunning new image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko shows off a drab, alien landscape. Amateur astronomer Jacint Roger Perez stitched together this remarkable view of the comet’s surface by combining three images captured in three different wavelengths by Rosetta’s OSIRIS camera.
ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA; J. Roger – CC BY SA 4.0
Seen in the centre and left of the frame is Seth, one of the geological regions on the larger of the two comet lobes, which declines towards the smoother Hapi region on the comet’s ‘neck’ that connects the two lobes. The landscape in the background reveals hints of the Babi and Aker regions, both located on the large lobe of 67P/C-G.
The sharp profile in the lower part of the image shows the Aswan cliff, a 134 m-high scarp separating the Seth and Hapi regions. Observations performed by Rosetta not long before the comet’s perihelion, which took place on 13 August 2015, revealed that a chunk of this cliff had collapsed – a consequence of increased activity as the comet drew closer to the Sun along its orbit.
Maps released by the ESA while Rosetta was still orbiting Comet 67P puts these location names in context. A paper in Astronomy & Astrophysics puts the locations we see in context to the rest of the comet.
EarthSky points out this isn’t the first time Jacint Roger Perez showed off Comet 67P. You probably missed the time-lapse Jacint made earlier this year. The short GIF below shows the Rosetta spacecraft flying through dust and ice particles streaming off Comet 67P.
Amazing time-lapse of images from the #Rosetta probe flying 13km above Comet 67P. A mix of stars, dust and ice particles, space debris. Stitched together/credit: Jacint Roger Perez pic.twitter.com/z1GDICfoNN
Rosetta’s mission to Comet 67P came to an end in late September 2016 when it crashed into the comet’s surface. But two years later, and astronomers are still pouring over the science collected by the spacecraft and crafting beautiful new pictures for us to see.