Tags: rosetta | 67p | color | comet

Rosetta 67P in Color: Comet's Dusty Red, Not Charcoal Black

By    |   Tuesday, 02 Dec 2014 08:26 AM

The Rosetta space probe's first "true color image" of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has stunned scientists who now know the chunk of space rock is a dusty red and not charcoal black as originally believed by the European Space Agency.

Rosetta's Navcam had taken pictures of the comet in grey-scale previously, according to the Daily Mail, but the latest image was taken by a camera called the Osiris, which has filter wheels to allow scientists to select image wavelengths in red, green and blue.

The newspaper reported that each photograph can then be combined to create the "true color" image of the object.

Scientists reported that in September another instrument on Rosetta that mapped the comet's surface suggested that the satellite had an "unusually dark – darker than charcoal – black" color when viewed in ultraviolet wavelengths, noted the Daily Mail. The photos were taken in November before the landing of Philae.

The probe Philae made history in November when it was launched from Rosetta and landed on 67/P, according to Forbes.

"We're a bit surprised at just how unreflective the comet's surface is and how little evidence of exposed water-ice it shows," Alan Stern, the instrument's principal investigator said at the time.

The image of the comet will be released to the public at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco on Dec. 15, the Daily Mail reported. Scientists believe the comet could help explain how the solar system was formed 4.5 billion years ago.

Because Philae landed on a portion of 67P which has limited sunlight, the probe has not been able to recharge its batteries, sending it into hibernation, Forbes reported. Before it did, the probe was able to collect more than 60 hours of science data from the surface.

"We have data from magnetic fields, gas spectrometers which have sniffed the comet at different locations, as well as measurements of temperatures and surface quantities," Rosetta project scientist Matt Taylor told Forbes. "There is a joyous, elated mood in the Philae team; this mission has achieved and the [then] some."

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The Rosetta space probe's first "true color image" of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has stunned scientists who now know the chunk of space rock is a dusty red and not charcoal black as originally believed by the European Space Agency.
rosetta, 67p, color, comet
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2014-26-02
Tuesday, 02 Dec 2014 08:26 AM
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