Rosetta Sees Fascinating Changes in Comet 67P

A new jet issues from a fissure in the rugged, dusty surface of Rosetta's comet. Credit: ESO/Rosetta/Navcam

A new jet issues from a fissure in the rugged, dusty surface of Rosetta’s comet. Credit: ESO/Rosetta/Navcam

It only makes sense. Sunlight heats a comet and causes ice to vaporize. This leads to changes in the appearance of surface features. For instance, the Sun’s heat can gnaw away at the ice on sunward-facing cliffs, hollowing them out and eventually causing them to collapse in icy rubble. Solar heating can also warm the ice that’s beneath the surface. When it becomes a vapor, pressure can build up, cracking the ice above and releasing sprays of gas and dust as jets.

Take a look at this photo taken on December 9 of a part of the neck of the comet called Hapi. I’ve labeled a boulder and three prominent cracks. Sunlight is coming from top and behind in this image. Compare to the photo below shot on Jan. 8. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Navcam

Recent photos taken by the Rosetta spacecraft reveal possible changes on the surface of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko that are fascinating to see and contemplate. In a recent entry of the Rosetta blog, the writer makes mention of horseshoe-shaped features in the smooth neck region of the comet called “Hapi”. An earlier image from —> Read More Here


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