Jet! The comet that the Rosetta spacecraft is visiting is shedding more dust as machine and Solar System body get closer to the Sun.
While activity was first seen at the “neck” of the rubber-duckie shaped comet a few weeks ago, now scientists are seeing jets spring from across the comet.
This is just one signal of cometary activity picking up as 67P gets closer to the Sun. For the moment, it appears the prime landing site is still safe enough for Philae to land on Nov. 19, officials said, while noting there is a jet about a kilometer away that the lander can study when it gets there.
“At this point, we believe that a large fraction of the illuminated comet’s surface is displaying some level of activity,” stated Jean-Baptiste Vincent a scientist from the Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System (OSIRIS) that took the pictures. He is with the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany.
The comet is about 470 million kilometers (292 miles) from the Sun and will make its closest approach in 2015. Rosetta is the first mission to orbit a comet as it gets close to the Sun, and Philae (if successful) will make the first “soft” landing on a cometary surface.
Source: European Space Agency