Astronomy Picture of the Day
August 11, 2014

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (Part IV - EDM n. 3)
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (Part IV - EDM n. 3)

Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA and Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF for the additional process. and color.

This picture is a close-up detail focusing on a Smooth Region located on the "base" - in a manner of speaking - of the 'Body' section of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The image was taken by the ESA - Rosetta Spacecraft's Onboard Scientific Imaging System (or "OSIRIS", for short) on August 6, 2014. The image clearly shows a range of interesting Surface Features, including small and medium-sized Boulders, very tiny (almost invisible) Impact Craters and steep Cliffs. The image was taken from a distance of about 80 miles (such as approx. 128,74 Km) from the Comet's Nucleus and the image resolution is roughly 8 feet (such as approx. 2,4384 meters) per pixel.

The three NASA-made Scientific Instruments located onboard the Rosetta Spacecraft are the Microwave Instrument for the Rosetta Spacecraft/Orbiter (or "MIRO", for short), an UltraViolet Spectrometer called Alice, and the Ion and Electron Sensor (or "IES", for short). They are part of a suite of 11 Science Instruments onboard the ESA - Rosetta Orbiter.

MIRO is designed to provide data on how Gas and Dust leave the Surface of the Nucleus to form the Coma and Tail that gives Comets their intrinsic beauty. Studying the Surface Temperature and evolution of the Coma and Tail provides information on how the Comet evolves as it approaches and then leaves the vicinity of the Sun. Alice will analyze the Gases present in the Comet's Coma, which is the Bright Envelope of Gases that surrounds the Nucleus of the Comet and that developes as the Comet approaches the Sun. Alice will also measure the rate at which the Comet produces Water, Carbon Monoxide and Carbon Dioxide, and all these measurements will provide valuable information about the Surface Composition of its Nucleus.

This frame (which is a close-up Original ESA - Rosetta Spacecraft's b/w and NON Map-Projected image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 18642) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, strongly magnified to aid the visibility of the details, Gamma corrected and then colorized - according to an educated guess (or, if you wish, an informed speculation) carried out by Dr Paolo C. Fienga - in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a human eye would actually perceive if someone were onboard the ESA - Rosetta Spacecraft and then looked outside, towards the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko) by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team. Different colors, as well as different shades of the same color, mean, among other things, the existence of different Elements (Minerals) present on the Surface of the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.

Note: it is possible (but we, as IPF, have no way to be one-hundred-percent sure of such a circumstance), that the actual luminosity of the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko - as it is in this frame - would appear, to an average human eye, a little bit lower than it has been shown (or, better yet: interpreted) here.

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