• Blog Stats

    • 1,335,473 hits

Comet catch up…

Time for a quick catch-up with the latest navcam images of Comet 67P released by the ESA ROSETTA team…

True to their word, the ESA team is continuing to release their quartets of navcam images. A couple of days ago, ESA released this rather beautiful image, which really does show how much activity is going on now. Look at all those jets and plumes shooting off the comet…


…and when you tweak that a bit… ok, a LOT…

Comet_on_20_November_NavCam e

WHOOSH! Gas and dust EVERYWHERE!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

That’s just crying out for an artistic treatment, just for fun, so here goes…

Comet_on_20_November_NavCam e2b

And then yesterday another quartet of images was released…


Look closely and you’ll see that those four images don’t line up very well. That’s because in the gaps between each individual image being taken the comet rotated a little bit, so it’s not possible – or at least extremely hard – to create a single, seamless image from those four frames. I tried and failed absolutely miserably. I’ll have another go later, when I have more time. What I was able to do though was crop some areas of that mosaic to isolate and highlight striking features on the surface, so take a look at these…

ESA_Rosetta_NAVCAM_141126_A b

Now *that’s* a heck of a view isn’t it? Love that jagged edged crater down at the bottom centre there…

ESA_Rosetta_NAVCAM_141126_D b2

And that’s a interesting vista, too… But this is my fave, I think…

ESA_Rosetta_NAVCAM_141126_D b

Love the dim light on the inside of the smaller lobe there, very atmospheric… ๐Ÿ™‚

And with a bit of tweaking more jet activity becomes obvious, too…


So, AGAIN, a huge thank you to the team at ESA releasing the navcam pics. Seriously, if they didn’t, we wouldn’t even know Rosetta was still AT 67P, because the OSIRIS team continues to keep all their lovely images to themselves. Oh, the wonders they must be seeing now… I know one thing, if they don’t release all those images after their beloved 6 month “proprietary period” as expected, as they are supposed to, there will be hell on. I honestly wouldn’t put it past them to only release a bare minimum of images, and keep hold of the really good stuff for a whole longer, claiming “technical problems” or something. Cyncial? Yep. Unfair? Possibly. But they’ve done themselves no favours, and to be blunt I simply don’t trust them to do the right thing, I don’t. We’ll have to wait and see. I hope I’m proved wrong, I really do.

One thing the OSIRIS team definitely COULD do now is to release their annotated maps and charts of the comet, which they must have by now. In fact, I know they have, because a couple of weeks ago at that big science conference in the US some images were shown on social media which had features named, so there absolutely must be, hidden within the OSIRIS team’s fortress, charts and maps with the comet’s major features labelled and named. I bet there are charts and maps pinned on walls, and on the back of doors, and draped over desks, covered in names, and a big warning sign on the fortress door, written in blood…


What possible reason could they have for keeping those names to themselves? Ok, playing Devil’s Advocate, keeping their *images* of the comet to themselves makes a kind of sense, because they are protecting their first dibs on the science. But keeping the names they’ve given to landscape features secret? Really? What’s the point of that? What does that protect? Who is going to write glory-stealing, career-threatening, science-stealing papers if the OSIRIS team lets us know what the big cliffs on the larger lobe have been christened, or that huuuuge crater on the front of the small lobe?

Just to be clear, this is NOT something ESA can do. ESA has no say over what data – images, names, whatever – is released by the science teams on the mission, particularly the OSIRIS team. Basically, ESA built a big space bus and offered to take a load of tourists on a trip to a comet in it, if they paid for their tickets.


Now the bus has reached the comet, those tourists are hanging out the windows and clicking away like crazy, taking fantastic pictures, but thanks to the small print on their tickets – written long, long ago, before the bus company got to grips with the whole “outreach and education” thing – they are under no obligation to show those images to the bus driver or their company. One can only hope that for future bus trips, the bus company only sells tickets to people willing to share their snaps with them, and the people who paid for their bus to be built in the first place…

Why is this a big deal? Well, it’s not, not really. We don’t NEED to know those names, and see those maps, but of we could oit would be fascinating, don’t you think? Knowing the names of features on a new map of a totally new body – a -planet, moon, or in this case a comet – is always cool, it makes that body seem more real somehow. The NASA teams on the MER and CASSINI missions always release names of newly-discovered features really quickly, which really brings the places they see to life.

And this is just One More Thing with the OSIRIS team, isn’t it? This is something the OSIRIS team absolutely could do without any risk to their careers or science, something they could do to boost public interest in and support for the mission as a whole, and keep it in the media spotlight now the Philae landing is history, but they’re choosing not to. Some might say that it’s just the OSIRIS team continuing to be petty and selfish, and unsupportive of the mission and ESA.


Anyway, they’re obviously not going to do it, so why am I so bothered? Well, as regular readers wll know I do a lot of Outreach work, giving talks in schools and to community groups, and it would be brilliant to put up a picture of 67 and tell people the names of the cliffs, and craters, shown on it. People love maps, and charts, and I know that if the OSIRIS team released a few labelled charts that would go down fantastically well… but clearly they have no interest in, or appreciation of the value of Outreach and Education, the science is everything to them. Such a shame. Such a great, great shame. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Never mind! Thanks to the brilliant ESA team we have the navcam images to drool over, so thanks again to them for keeping the hungry space enthusiast hordes fed, it is greatly appreciated. ๐Ÿ™‚

One Response

  1. “I know one thing, if they donโ€™t release all those images after their beloved 6 month ‘proprietary period’ as expected, as they are supposed to, there will be hell on.” Well, better take a really deep breath as during the latest AMA we heard that “[a]ll the data will be publicly available in 6 to 12 months in the ESA’s Planetary Science Archive” – so a delay up to 6 months (for cleaning up the data) is already envisioned now

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: