High-Resolution Images Reveal Surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

First Map of Rosetta's Comet

In this view of the “belly” and part of the “head” of the comet, several morphologically different regions are indicated. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

High-Resolution images taken by OSIRIS reveal a detailed scientific description of the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

High-resolution images of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko reveal a unique, multifaceted world. ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft arrived at its destination about a month ago and is currently accompanying the comet as it progresses on its route toward the inner solar system. Scientists have now analyzed images of the comet’s surface taken by OSIRIS, Rosetta’s scientific imaging system, and allocated several distinct regions, each of which is defined by special morphological characteristics. This analysis provides the basis for a detailed scientific description of 67P’s surface.

“Never before have we seen a cometary surface in such detail”, says OSIRIS Principal Investigator Holger Sierks from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Science in Germany. In some of the images, each pixel corresponds to a scale of 75 centimeters at the nucleus. “It is a historic moment, we have an unprecedented resolution to map a comet,” he adds.

With areas dominated by cliffs, depressions, craters, boulders, or even parallel grooves, 67P displays a multitude of different terrains. While some of these areas appear to be quiet, others seem to be shaped by the comet’s activity. As OSIRIS images of the comet’s coma indicate, the dust that 67P casts into space is emitted there.

Surface Map of Comet 67P

Jagged cliffs and prominent boulders: In this image, several of 67P’s very different surface structures become visible. The left part of the image shows the side wing of the comet’s “body”, while the right is the back of its “head”. The image was taken by OSIRIS, Rosetta’s scientific imaging system, on September 5th, 2014 from a distance of 62 kilometers. One pixel corresponds to 1.1 meters. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

“This first map is, of course, only the beginning of our work,” says Sierks. “At this point, nobody truly understands, how the morphological variations we are currently witnessing came to be.” As both 67P and Rosetta travel closer to the Sun in the next months, the OSIRIS team will monitor the surface looking for changes. While the scientists do not expect the borderlines of the comet’s regions to vary dramatically, even subtle transformations of the surface may help to explain how cometary activity created such a breathtaking world. The maps will also offer valuable insights for Rosetta’s Lander Team and the Rosetta orbiter scientists to determine a primary and backup landing site from the earlier preselection of five candidates.

20 Comments on "High-Resolution Images Reveal Surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko"

  1. I certainly can see how this objects filled our oceans.

  2. In the Beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth.. That’s how.

  3. Ok, its a rock! Anything else than rock out there? Cmon, sooo boring!

    • it the basis for all minerals and metals it only a rock at these tempuratures and pressures it was molten at one time SOMEWHERE

  4. What are the capabilities of OSIRIS? Since OSIRIS will be hitching a free ride anyways, an alternate mission should explore the inner Solar System via the 67P’s orbit. Who knows what we may encounter along it’s travels 🙂

    This could pioneer a new way to explore our galaxy. Land a satellite on a comet and have it launch probes at various points of a comets orbit. This will save a lot of fuel that could be used by instruments and communications.

    • Michael E. Jones | September 12, 2014 at 8:36 pm | Reply

      That is an excellent idea.
      Submit it to NASA.
      If there is no chance of discovering life NASA may
      go for it.
      If there is a chance of discovering life
      NASA will go out of their way to make sure it
      never gets off the ground.

  5. Why can’t we get high resolution images of the moon and mars? Especially the dang moon!

  6. LMAO stephen not saying there isnt a creator of the universe but im sorry to tell you it is not what your thinking. there is a much bigger story here and we as humans are just 1 page of thousands, our importance in this world is no great than that of other life on other planets that we will find do exist. I do not believe we have someone watch the actions of billions of people on earth all at one time.sorry to burst your bubble.

  7. actually more like 1 page of billions

  8. I guess James McCanney was right after all and NASA has been lying the whole time. Comets are not dirty snowballs. They have ridiculed him for decades just because he wouldn’t just go along with the party line and slowly the things they have been ridiculing him for have slowly been creeping into their “facts”. They call him a pseudo scientist and a crackpot for hisfairy tale theories, but if you ask me, they are the ones acting like a bunch of religious zealots from the Westborough Baptist Church.

    • If Churuymov-Gerasimenko is NOT a dirty snowball, I don’t know what else it is.

      But I’m sure you can teach us all, master: explain how the object being photographed by Rosetta isn’t a huge mass of rock, dust and ices.

      • Actually a very decent explanation can be sought at thunderbolts.info . The solar system is filled with plasma, which can and does carry currents. If you pass a highly metallic object through an electrified medium, it gathers that electric charge until such a time that the charge can be released. As the comet heads away from the Sun, it can be thought of as a capacitor gaining charge. As it comes closer, it discharges this energy in a mostly Hydrogen plasma. as this plasma reacts with the surface of the object, it blasts Oxygen-rich silicates from said surface, potentially creating the observed water-plasma. If this theory is proven right then NASA and ESA will have to look into the electric universe model.

  9. They can send a craft to a comet but they can’t provide free WiFi.

  10. Amazing high resolution images of this distant celestial body. I want to know if any material is loose or it is all highly bonded. And is the bonding by high temperature action (molten rock long ago) or by water freezing. We need more data ! What is the density, what is the rotation rate. Is the centripital force from rotation sufficient to eject a loose body from the surface at some points around the rotating axis? This is an asset for our solar system, and for future human kind, as some have eluded to. The more we know, the more we can dream of what is and what could be.

    • Thank you, Schlott. While so many others are doing their darnedest to turn this into a forum on religion, you focused on the real reason OSIRIS was sent to intercept comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This is mankind’s first really great chance to ride along with a comet as it approaches the sun. For the first time ever we will not be watching the game from the bleachers way out in centerfield. This time we are going to be standing in the home plate umpire’s shoes. I find that pretty exciting.

    • Schlott, I suggest you start here:
      Yes, and btw, the comet is “blacker than charcoal”. Hahaha.

  11. Carbonated Black Water Ice mountain peaks at Comet 67P- CG, is a strong indication for dual nuclear H2, O and even C production, including upward pressure on ice mountain formation, from inside two nuclei of the Comet.
    According to Quantum FFF Theory. See:


    for outgassing see also:

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