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New navcam image of 67P shows stunning activity

After a pause of several days, ESA has released another set of four images of Comet 67P taken by the navcam on the ROSETTA probe. These images can be assembled into a single mosaic image, but the problem is that ROSETTA is now so close to 67P, less than 30km away in fact, that it has moved noticeably between each of the exposures, which means stitching them together without seams or discrepancies is just about impossible, and even creating a single image at all is is extremely difficult; shadows lengthen between images, features rotate towards or away from the camera, etc. Here’s the version put up on the ESA “Comet Chaser” blog, which is still pretty amazing but you can see the challenges for yourself where the images join…


Image: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

Now, when you isolate each image, the level of detail is pretty stunning, but obviously what really draws the eye are those beautiful jets shooting up from the “neck” of the comet…

jets crop

Here’s a closer look at that horizon being silhouetted by the jets…


Oh, just imagine what it must be like just over that horizon, where the jets are coming out of the ground…! But WHAT are they coming out of? Cracks? Holes?

The only people who know what wonders lurk beyond that boulder-strewn horizon are the OSIRIS team – the scientists and engineers, based at the Max Planck Institute for Science, who continue, despite public and professional pleas, to withhold the images being ROSETTA’s highest resolution camera from the world.

I’m sure that OSIRIS images of the sources of those jets must be absolutely jaw dropping, but I honestly get the feeling we’re just not going to get to see them anytime soon. The OSIRIS team are keeping them under wraps because they want to, because they just don’t want to share them. And, of course, under the terms of their written-in-blood-on-tablets-of-stone contract with ESA and the ESA’s member states they don’t HAVE to share them for at least another five months.

I know some people will accuse me of being obsessed here, and of going on like a stuck record (sorry, scratched CD… showing my age there!), but it’s just wrong what they’re doing. There is absolutely no way, no possible way, that every single image taken by OSIRIS is so scientifically priceless, so packed with new insights into cometary processes, so revolutionary, that it has to be kept from the world. I’m sorry, I’m just not buying that.

It’s not as if the OSIRIS team are unaware of the public and media interest in their images, and the hunger to see them. Many bloggers are writing about this, as are many space journalists, and space enthusiast forums and websites are all putting out the same message – please show us some pictures!

But they’re not listening, and they are now consciously ignoring the calls for release of their images. I know this for a fact because I have personally emailed people on the OSIRIS team and had no response. I have written to Prof Ulrich Christensen, the MPS “Comets and Planets” Section Director, but have received no reply. I have written to the OSIRIS Project Manager, Dr Dr Carsten Guettler, twice, but again have received no reply. Now I know they’re very busy people, but to not even reply to an email (and I was polite and respectful, I didn’t demand anything!) is a pretty deliberate snub. I have also written to OSIRIS Principal Investigator Dr Holger Sierks, and he was very generous with his time a few weeks ago when he agreed to an email “Interview” for this blog, but the last time I wrote to him, more than a week ago, he suggested that an OSIRIS image of the source of the jets would be released soon, and it still hasn’t been, which is very disappointing.

It’s time this situation changed.

I’m seriously thinking about setting up an online petition for people to sign if they want to see some OSIRIS images of Comet 67P. I’m mulling that over right now. If I did that, would YOU sign? Would you circulate it amongst your friends and online contacts?

In the meantime, here are some of my (now quite popular, apparently!) enhanced crops of sections of the latest OSIRIS image…







2 Responses

  1. […] die extrem restriktive Bilder-Politik (mehr und mehr) der Mission. [15:55 MESZ. NACHTRAG: gleich noch ein gesalzener Kommentar zur […]

  2. I would sign this petition!

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