APOD: Comet 67P from Spacecraft Rosetta (2016 Feb 02)

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APOD: Comet 67P from Spacecraft Rosetta (2016 Feb 02)

Postby APOD Robot » Tue Feb 02, 2016 5:09 am

Image Comet 67P from Spacecraft Rosetta

Explanation: Spacecraft Rosetta continues to circle and map Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Crossing the inner Solar System for ten years to reach the vicinity of the comet in 2014, the robotic spacecraft continues to image the unusual double-lobed comet nucleus. The featured image, taken one year ago, shows dust and gas escaping from the comet's nucleus. Although appearing bright here, the comet's surface reflects only about four percent of impinging visible light, making it as dark as coal. Comet 67P/Churyumov�Gerasimenko spans about four kilometers in length and has a surface gravity so low that an astronaut could jump off of it. With Rosetta in tow, Comet 67P passed its closest to the Sun last year and is now headed back to the furthest point -- just past the orbit of Jupiter.

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Re: APOD: Comet 67P from Spacecraft Rosetta (2016 Feb 02)

Postby starsurfer » Tue Feb 02, 2016 9:16 am

What an age we live in when we can launch a space probe to a comet! Amazing view and it's great that the mysteries of comets are being unravelled.

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Re: APOD: Comet 67P from Spacecraft Rosetta (2016 Feb 02)

Postby Animal of Stone » Tue Feb 02, 2016 10:17 am

Undoubtedly this shot captures the power and potential of comets. Harbingers of doom or the pre essence of life :?:

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Postby Phil R. » Tue Feb 02, 2016 12:23 pm

ET phone home! :lol2:

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Re: APOD: Comet 67P from Spacecraft Rosetta (2016 Feb 02)

Postby tomatoherd » Tue Feb 02, 2016 2:24 pm

"unusual double-lobed comet nucleus."
Surely nobody knows whether this is unusual or not. Have we ever got close enough to other comets to see? They are the tiniest specks we've ever explored, the farthest from being 'gravitationally rounded'. They might come triple- or quadruple-lobed, as far as we know, or weirder, fantastic shapes. But I think I know what he means: "unusual" for anything else we've seen OR explored.

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Re: APOD: Comet 67P from Spacecraft Rosetta (2016 Feb 02)

Postby NGC3314 » Tue Feb 02, 2016 2:47 pm

67P is the sixth comet we've had a close look at (the previous ones from flyby missions). Emily Lackdawalla put together a scale montage. The most common shape seems to be like a bowling pin; maybe that's related to the distinct double lobes of 67P? Halley almost looks as double from certain angles.

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Re: APOD: Comet 67P from Spacecraft Rosetta (2016 Feb 02)

Postby Chris Peterson » Tue Feb 02, 2016 3:02 pm

tomatoherd wrote:"unusual double-lobed comet nucleus."
Surely nobody knows whether this is unusual or not. Have we ever got close enough to other comets to see? They are the tiniest specks we've ever explored, the farthest from being 'gravitationally rounded'. They might come triple- or quadruple-lobed, as far as we know, or weirder, fantastic shapes. But I think I know what he means: "unusual" for anything else we've seen OR explored.

We've looked at a number with radar. Oblong is common, but not to this degree.
Chris

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Re: APOD: Comet 67P from Spacecraft Rosetta (2016 Feb 02)

Postby tomatoherd » Tue Feb 02, 2016 3:04 pm

I stand (partly) corrected. Thanks!

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Re: APOD: Comet 67P from Spacecraft Rosetta (2016 Feb 02)

Postby Ann » Tue Feb 02, 2016 3:31 pm


It is amazing that an object made by humanity, Rosetta, is more or less hitching a ride on a comet.

Just imagine what it would have been like if 67P had been a really, really active comet... Rosetta would have had to fasten her seat belt, for sure.

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Re: APOD: Comet 67P from Spacecraft Rosetta (2016 Feb 02)

Postby Markus Schwarz » Tue Feb 02, 2016 4:13 pm

I recently attended a talk by a member of the Rosetta team. He showed data indicating that C67P might have formed from the "collision" of the two "lobes".

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Re: APOD: Comet 67P from Spacecraft Rosetta (2016 Feb 02)

Postby captainwiggins48 » Tue Feb 02, 2016 4:40 pm

Is it possible that 67/P is not a comet at all. The amount of dust and gas escaping doesn't seem too significant, especially during perihelion, nor does there appear to be much ice on it.

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Re: APOD: Comet 67P from Spacecraft Rosetta (2016 Feb 02)

Postby Chris Peterson » Tue Feb 02, 2016 4:56 pm

captainwiggins48 wrote:Is it possible that 67/P is not a comet at all. The amount of dust and gas escaping doesn't seem too significant, especially during perihelion, nor does there appear to be much ice on it.

Comets vary widely in activity, and we now believe that many of them are more rock than ice. The orbit, behavior, and material makeup of 67P leave little doubt that it's a comet (as opposed to an odd asteroid, for instance).
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Re: APOD: Comet 67P from Spacecraft Rosetta (2016 Feb 02)

Postby glj » Tue Feb 02, 2016 5:07 pm

Are the white specks that are visible in the picture background stars or other bits of matter that the comet has in tow in addition to Rosetta?

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Re: APOD: Comet 67P from Spacecraft Rosetta (2016 Feb 02)

Postby neufer » Tue Feb 02, 2016 5:22 pm

Chris Peterson wrote:
tomatoherd wrote:
"unusual double-lobed comet nucleus."

Surely nobody knows whether this is unusual or not. Have we ever got close enough to other comets to see? They are the tiniest specks we've ever explored, the farthest from being 'gravitationally rounded'. They might come triple- or quadruple-lobed, as far as we know, or weirder, fantastic shapes. But I think I know what he means: "unusual" for anything else we've seen OR explored.

We've looked at a number with radar. Oblong is common, but not to this degree.

The problem with radar "images" is that they are simply 2D maps of R vs. dR/dt (i.e., radar distance vs. radar velocity). Concentric cylinders around the rotation axis intersect a variety of terrain which are compressed together into reduced radar R vs. dR/dt "image" circles. An a priori radar "image" of Comet 67P would probably look quite different than an actual Rosetta image.

NGC3314 wrote:
Emily Lackdawalla put together a scale montage. The most common shape seems to be like a bowling pin; maybe that's related to the distinct double lobes of 67P? Halley almost looks as double from certain angles.
Art Neuendorffer

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Re: APOD: Comet 67P from Spacecraft Rosetta (2016 Feb 02)

Postby Markus Schwarz » Wed Feb 03, 2016 9:07 am

glj wrote:Are the white specks that are visible in the picture background stars or other bits of matter that the comet has in tow in addition to Rosetta?

Some of the "white specks" appear more like streaks, so I would interpret them as trails of dust. Rosetta investigated the comet's "corona" and imaged individual "boulders" with a size of about half a meter orbiting the comet. Some of the "white specks" are in front of the comet, ruling out stars (although they could be bad pixels of the camera). Also, my guess is that stars are usually to faint to be seen on images of astronomical objects lit by the sun (you almost never see them on images of planets, or the ISS), but I don't know the exposure time of this image.

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Re: APOD: Comet 67P from Spacecraft Rosetta (2016 Feb 02)

Postby geckzilla » Wed Feb 03, 2016 11:59 am

Markus Schwarz wrote:
glj wrote:Are the white specks that are visible in the picture background stars or other bits of matter that the comet has in tow in addition to Rosetta?

Some of the "white specks" appear more like streaks, so I would interpret them as trails of dust. Rosetta investigated the comet's "corona" and imaged individual "boulders" with a size of about half a meter orbiting the comet. Some of the "white specks" are in front of the comet, ruling out stars (although they could be bad pixels of the camera). Also, my guess is that stars are usually to faint to be seen on images of astronomical objects lit by the sun (you almost never see them on images of planets, or the ISS), but I don't know the exposure time of this image.

One of the people here at this forum (I forgot exactly who... if you're reading this, I am sorry!) figured out that a surprising number of the dots can also be stars. So it's a mix of stars, CCD artifacts, and likely bits of comet, too.
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Re: APOD: Comet 67P from Spacecraft Rosetta (2016 Feb 02)

Postby ygmarchi » Wed Feb 03, 2016 7:19 pm

As a 44 years old lay person, generally interested in space observation and exploration, the Rosetta mission surpasses all the others I have been privileged to witness is my lifetime. The complex and weirdly familiar comet landscape has been a thorough revelation. With O2 having been measured as a significant fraction of the comet atmosphere I wonder if we can really rule out in advance the presence of life.

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Re: APOD: Comet 67P from Spacecraft Rosetta (2016 Feb 02)

Postby Chris Peterson » Wed Feb 03, 2016 7:25 pm

ygmarchi wrote:As a 44 years old lay person, generally interested in space observation and exploration, the Rosetta mission surpasses all the others I have been privileged to witness is my lifetime. The complex and weirdly familiar comet landscape has been a thorough revelation. With O2 having been measured as a significant fraction of the comet atmosphere I wonder if we can really rule out in advance the presence of life.

Regarding life as we recognize it, free oxygen is not a requirement, but liquid water is (and we don't find persistent liquid water on comets).
Chris

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Re: APOD: Comet 67P from Spacecraft Rosetta (2016 Feb 02)

Postby neufer » Thu Feb 04, 2016 9:05 pm

Chris Peterson wrote:
ygmarchi wrote:
The complex and weirdly familiar comet landscape has been a thorough revelation. With O2 having been measured as a significant fraction of the comet atmosphere I wonder if we can really rule out in advance the presence of life.

Regarding life as we recognize it, free oxygen is not a requirement, but liquid water is (and we don't find persistent liquid water on comets).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comet#Com ... ct_on_life wrote:
<<The detection of organic molecules, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, in significant quantities in comets has led some to speculate that comets or meteorites may have brought the precursors of life—or even life itself—to Earth. In 2013 it was suggested that impacts between rocky and icy surfaces, such as comets, had the potential to create the amino acids that make up proteins through shock synthesis. In 2015, scientists found significant amounts of molecular oxygen in outgassings from comet 67P, an indicator that presence of that molecule may occur naturally more often than it had been thought, and thus that it may not be as strong an indicator of alien life as has been supposed.>>
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Oxygenation_Event wrote:
<<The Great Oxygenation Event (GOE), also called the Oxygen Catastrophe, Oxygen Crisis, Oxygen Holocaust, Oxygen Revolution, or Great Oxidation, was the biologically induced appearance of dioxygen (O2) in Earth's atmosphere. Geological, isotopic, and chemical evidence suggest that this major environmental change happened around 2.3 billion years ago.

Cyanobacteria, which appeared about 200 million years before the GOE, began producing oxygen by photosynthesis. Before the GOE, any free oxygen they produced was chemically captured by dissolved iron or organic matter. The GOE was the point when these oxygen sinks became saturated and could not capture all of the oxygen that was produced by cyanobacterial photosynthesis. After the GOE, the excess free oxygen started to accumulate in the atmosphere.

Free oxygen is toxic to obligate anaerobic organisms, and the rising concentrations may have wiped out most of the Earth's anaerobic inhabitants at the time. Cyanobacteria were therefore responsible for one of the most significant extinction events in Earth's history. But research has shown that microbial mats of oxygen-producing microbes will produce a thin layer, one or two millimeters thick, of oxygenated water in an otherwise anoxic environment even under thick ice, and before oxygen started accumulating in the atmosphere, organisms living on these mats would already be adapted to being exposed to oxygen. Additionally, the free oxygen reacted with atmospheric methane, a greenhouse gas, greatly reducing its concentration and triggering the Huronian glaciation, possibly the longest snowball Earth episode in the Earth's history.

Eventually, aerobic organisms began to evolve, consuming oxygen and bringing about an equilibrium in its availability.>>
Art Neuendorffer


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