Rosetta’s Comet Really “Blows Up” in Latest Images

Article written: 9 Feb , 2015
Updated: 23 Dec , 2015

First off: no, comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is not about to explode or disintegrate. But as it steadily gets nearer to the Sun the comet’s jets are getting more and more active and they’re putting on quite a show for the orbiting Rosetta spacecraft! Click the image for a jeterrific hi-res version.

The images above were captured by Rosetta’s NavCam on Jan. 31 and Feb. 3 from a distance of about 28 km (17 miles). Each is a mosaic of four separate NavCam acquisitions and they have been adjusted and tinted in Photoshop by yours truly to further enhance the jets’ visibility. (You can view the original image mosaics and source frames here and here.)

These dramatic views are just a hint at what’s in store; 67P’s activity will only be increasing in the coming weeks and months and, this weekend, Rosetta will be swooping down for an extreme close pass over its surface!

Detail of 67P from the Feb. 3 NavCam image

Detail of 67P from the Feb. 3 NavCam image

This Saturday, Feb. 14, Rosetta will be performing a very close pass of the comet’s nucleus, soaring over the Imhotep region at an altitude of only 6 km (3.7 miles) at 12:41 UTC. This will allow the spacecraft to closely image the comet’s surface, as well as investigate the behavior of its jets and how they interact with its developing coma.

“The upcoming close flyby will allow unique scientific observations, providing us with high-resolution measurements of the surface over a range of wavelengths and giving us the opportunity to sample – taste or sniff – the very innermost parts of the comet’s atmosphere,” said Rosetta project scientist Matt Taylor.

Read more about Rosetta’s Valentine’s Day close pass here and watch an animation of how it will be executed below.

Source: ESA

UPDATE: Here’s an image of 67P captured by Rosetta on Feb. 6 from a distance of 124 km (77 miles) as it moved into a higher orbit in preparation of its upcoming close pass. It’s the first single-frame image of the comet since leaving bound orbits.

The image has been processed to add a contrasting tint and enhance jet activity. See the original image here.

Single-frame NavCam image of comet 67P/C-G imaged on Feb. 6, 2015. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0. Edited by Jason Major.

Single-frame NavCam image of comet 67P/C-G imaged on Feb. 6, 2015. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0. Edited by Jason Major.

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23 Responses

  1. Member
    Pete says

    Thank you, Jason!
    In the top picture, right frame, are we seeing erosion of the “head” of 67P by outgasing from within the neck?

    • I don’t think erosion is happening there yet, but it does appear to show some deflection of the jets from the body off the underside of the head. Just a speculation.

  2. btraymd says

    The form of the Rosetta comet is identical to that formed via and an electric arc in the laboratory.
    The comet is solid rock, just as virtually all other have been shown to be (particularly the impact mission of temple I). It electrically charged and has a magnetic field. This will explain all of the observations made we continue to watch.

    • The comet density is inconsistent with a rock.
      Electric arcs aren’t composed of solids (ices, etc).

      “This will explain all of the observations made we continue to watch.” No, sorry. Electric Universe models fail at face value in explaining what we see here… or most anywhere.

    • Plenum says

      btraymd – I’ve put some honest effort in trying to understand the Electric Universe, but, really, are we supposed to believe that million-mile-long lightening bolts are traveling between electrically-charged bodies in space? The Electric Universe “theory” just doesn’t fly, pal… You say, it says what it says, but if any body in space had a significant electrical charge, wouldn’t the satellites approaching them detect that charge? Or, wouldn’t a lander of some sort, when coming in near-physical, or physical contact with an asteroid, comet, or planet, suffer a discharge of some measure and fry the electronics in the lander? This didn’t happen to any of the Apollo missions, nor a gazillion others missions, including that darling Chinese “rover”… (Why am I wasting my time? Maybe it’s because I have put honest effort into understanding the electric model, but it just doesn’t carry weight, doesn’t substantiate, fails to predict, fails to explain… and have only been rewarded by the relatively interesting images. Only.)

      • forj says

        he has been trolling every thread on here recently with the same regurgitated nonsense about the electric universe theory. Ive come to realize that people who subscribe to this theory are akin to conspiracy theorists. they dont care about evidence or science.. or falsly believe that the science and evidence supports their claims. i would bet most of the people making these claims including btraymd are simply repeat what they have heard and dont really have a true understanding for the science behind their claims. the sad part is they refuse to be open minded and refuse to accept that maybe they arent right. that maybe some of the other science being done could hold merit. certainly not the behavior of true scientists

      • metalman_5150 says

        No matter where you stand, EDM (electric discharge machining) can replicate, to the “T”, the exact model of 67P. Does that mean that 67P was created with EDM? There are smarter people than I, who make a lot of money to study these things. A person could make 67P replicas with EDM, that can not be denied.

        I am fascinated with all of these theories. Let us not forget that the Big Bang is also still, a theory, at the end of the day, though it has become accepted as historical fact, in many disciplines. As farfetched as something like the Electric Universe may seem, I find black holes, aliens, and string theory to be just as far fetched, if not more.

      • btraymd says

        Plenum, I appreciate the attempt to consider the electric models of cosmology. Please look at the “Primer Fields”, a recent series done by plasma physicists working with magnetic fields. It was more than interesting to me. Also some of the presentations from the Electric Universe Conference 2014 were very convincing.
        The predictions made based on the electric nature of comets by Thornhill were remarkably correct while the standard model was left with only questions. View the published results from the Temple I mission and it is apparent that the standard model was entirely incorrect, as readily admitted by the principal investigators.
        In the last 3-4 years the standard model of the sun has been failing miserably while the predictions by EU cosmologists are being validated daily. The evidence in favor of the EU model is overwhelming. This can also be found in the presentations from the 2014 conference.
        There are just so many assumptions made by standard theory cosmologists that are taken as fact it is not surprising that many are failing. A good example is that red shift is a measure of velocity and distance. Alton Harp published convincing evidence that this occurs with relation to age, not distance. New radio telescope data is showing quasars and galaxies in close contact with great variations in red shift, confirming Harp’s explanations. If this is true (as Carl Sagan claimed) then the entire concepts of the big bang and inflation are incorrect.
        NASA has measured massive magnetic fields in space. It is inescapable to conclude that these are caused by underlying electric currents. The Planck radio telescope has confirmed their existence.
        As new data pours in from the latest technological advances the standard model seems to be failing miserably. On the other hand, the EU models are consistently found to be in agreement.
        I am an M.D., board certified in OB-GYN but I have had a special interest in cosmology for the last 30 years. I have read much of the literature and try to stay current.
        The nature of my comments reflects the most rationale approach I can support with a field that has become wholly irrational.

    • BCstargazer says

      The good people at JPL (the ones you claim were shaking their heads, not) published a study appearing in The Journal of Physical Chemistry and describe a comet in a way that even you can understand …

  3. Member
    Aqua4U says

    Thanks for the eye candy Jason! Your Photoshop efforts rock!

    btraymd: Yes.. when a comet (Which may contain superconducting ices) crosses open and closed magnetic field lines emanating from Sol, interruptions are often seen in cometary ion tail(s). The ion or gas tail of a comet is generated by the constant flow of solar wind exchanging ions with and generating currents within freshly sublimated gases. How much charge is generated within the tail? There are a multitude of factors which determine that.. including gas density, composition, solar proton count(s) and magnetic flux.

    • btraymd says

      Agree completely. Doesn’t sound like it has much to do with gravity!!

      • forj says

        what exactly doesnt have to do with gravity? havent herad anyone here saying anything about gravity. pretty sure the orbit of the comet has a lot to do with gravity.. and when it gets closer to the sun the increased heat and solar wind cause outgassing resulting in the coma and jets we observe.

  4. btraymd says

    The real truth is that the Temple I mission completely validated the electric models and left NASA shaking their heads wondering “where was the water”. All of Thornhill’s predicted observations were spot on. These included the scarcity of water, loss of visual feed prior to impact, “double flash” and many others. The electric model is being validated daily in both the laboratory and through radio telescope findings. Gravity based theories are encountering one contradiction after another.
    We will soon be leaving the dark ages of cosmology. It is more of a religion than a science today. Nothing can be observed or confirmed. You just have to “believe”. Of course this requires that the laws of chemistry and physics break down as well. I’ve never heard of anything more absurd.
    Once the newest data from the latest technologies is reviewed the electric model of cosmology will be the only one left standing.

    • mewo says

      Nope, as I explained to you in the previous thread, none of the EU predictions happened.

      Thornhill predicted that the Deep Impact projectile would develop its own tiny coma. Didn’t happen. He predicted it would short out due to being hit by an electrical arc. Didn’t happen. He predicted multiple craters from all the electric arcs. Nope, only one. He predicted the crater would be smaller than NASA expected due to impacting solid rock. Nope, wrong again, the crater was actually marginally bigger than the pre-impact prediction and more consistent with a rock-ice mix than with solid rock.

      He predicted the impact site would produce a new jet. No, didn’t happen. He predicted the surface and interior would have the same composition. Nope, wrong, the interior turned out to contain lots more water than the surface crust.

      Then there’s the fact that neither Rosetta nor Philae detected any kind of substantial magnetic field at Chury. Philae has a magnetometer sensitive enough to detect the magnetic fields produced by its own internal electronics and those of Rosetta, and this was used during Philae’s descent to track its rotation rate. Yet it detected nothing strange on the way down, no powerful cometary magnetic field. How can that be, if everything Chury does is governed by powerful electromagnetic forces? Hint: it can’t!

      Also, if the Deep Impact projectile caused strong electric arcs that shorted it out and produced the crater on Tempel 1, how come Philae didn’t do the same on Chury? The answer is that there were no arcs and your Electric Universe theory is stupid and wrong.

  5. Plenum says

    Cool, and amazing images, thanks! Can’t wait till August and compare this month’s flyby analysis with the next!

  6. Navneeth says

    Now, that’s more like it!

  7. hannodb says

    I’m sorry, but those are *not* water fountains.

    As difficult as it is for me to accept some theories of the Electric Universe, I can’t help noticing how the empirical evidence confirms the Electric comet model, while the mainstream scientists keep expressing surprise at what they find.

    I’m not saying the E.U. is 100% correct in everything, I’m saying there’s a lot more going on there than just melting ice, and it is probably glowing plasma we’re seeing there.

    • forj says

      what is up with all these electric universe people bombarding the comments on Universe Today recently?

      i dont think anyone is claiming these are “water jets”.. it is ionized and sublimated hydrogen, oxygen, methane, ammonia, methanol, CO2, etc.. These ionized gasses interacting with the solar wind certainly create plasma, and the coma certainly interacts with the magnetic field of the sun. I dont think any cometary scientists are claiming that all you are seeing is melting water ice

    • Plenum says

      Being that the difference between the ElecUni theory and standard theory seems to be the interpretation of the results, I suggest that the ElecUni folks design some instrument(s) that provide(s) detectable evidence that would CONFIRM OR DENY ^[I can’t emphasize that enough…] some aspect of their “theory” versus ‘standard’ science, and contrast the results in a repeatable way (on other missions) that would support or disprove one or the other. Simple as that. I mean, that’s one of the principles of Science, right? It might take years, as do all projects, but they would have to convince Nasa to put that instrument on board one of the missions. Or, send up your own mission on a Russian, French, or Japanese, etc., rocket. Lots of options nowadays. I would be agreeable to that idea… I’d be open to it. Anybody else? But until then, I’m steering away from any argument they have to offer, because me thinks that the strategy of repetition can work only as a strategy to convince, but fails as proof in reliable Science. So, ElecUniv folks, show us the beef! (And I’ve wasted another 15 minutes on this stuff… Echh.) Hannodb and betraymd, you owe me a reply, thank-you…

      Meanwhile, I really look forward to next August and wonder if the crack in the “neck” of 67/P will widen, and if we’ll see other significant changes in the morphology of the comet, like a collapse of a shelf with boulders rolling a few tens of meters over the dusty surface where significant sublimation has occurred.

  8. UFOsMOTHER says

    Thanks Jason, 67P is a Jupiter family comet (comets with periods of less than 20 years) its moving inward toward it August 13th pass through perihelion and the nucleus will be jetting much more vigorously at that time so we will know a lot more about it then, But we already know the fluffy comet dust on its surface contains Glycine which is an amino acid that is a basic part of life but I would be willing to bet that if you were to break the comet in half there would not be Plasma at its core 🙂

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