Rosetta Saw Collapsing Cliffs and Other Changes on 67P During its Mission

Universe Today | 9/12/2015 | Staff
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It seems that comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko is not the stoic, unchanging Solar System traveller that it might seem to be. Scientists working through the vast warehouse of images from the Rosetta spacecraft have discovered there’s lots going on on 67P. Among the activity are collapsing cliffs and bouncing boulders.

These images are all being analyzed by scientists, and part of that analysis involves images from during and after perihelion. Perihelion is when an object is closest to the Sun, and scientists expect to see the most changes on the comet during that time. By comparing perihelion images with those following perihelion, they hope to gain a better understanding of how the comet evolves.

Rosetta - Datasets - Us…

“Rosetta’s datasets continue to surprise us…”

Matt Taylor, ESA’s Rosetta Project Scientist.

Lot - Surface - Fracture - Comet - Neck

There’s a lot going on 67P’s surface. A fracture in the comet’s neck region grew, patterns of circular shapes in smooth terrain changed over time, sometimes growing up to a few meters per day. There were also boulders moving across the surface. Some of them were tens of meters across and moved hundreds of meters. Other boulders left the surface completely and were ejected into space.

Dune-like features that were identified early in Rosetta’s mission in the neck region of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko changed over two years (first and last images). In addition, numerous circular scarp-like features were seen to develop and fade over time (central set of images). The circular features reached a diameter of 100 m in less than three months before subsequently fading away again, giving rise to a new set of ripples.

Comet - Lobes - Neck - Course - Rosetta

Comet 67P is made of two lobes with a smooth neck connecting them. Over the course of Rosetta’s mission the neck region underwent a lot of changes. Images show a 10 meter boulder that fell from a cliff and rolled and bounced along the smooth surface,...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Universe Today
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