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The Cliffs of Churyumov-Gerasimenko

There is a big science conference taking place in San Francisco this week. Scientists – astronomers, geologists, physicists, and others – journalists and educators from all over the globe will be gathering to present papers and share their research with their peers and the world. There will be hundreds of different talks and presentations, and even more posters for attendees to listen to and look at, and anyone with even a passing interest in astronomy is following the event on Twitter (#AGU2014) and other social media sites. This is from the event website…

Nearly 24,000 Earth and space scientists, educators, students, and other leaders are expected at this year’s meeting. In addition, members of the press, guests, and exhibitors will bring the total attendance to more than 25,000.

So, a Big Deal as you can see! And this is the week when the first real heavy science from the ROSETTA comet mission will be released out into the wild by the mission’s scientists, so we might… mightfinally get to see some of the fantastic images taken by the OSIRIS cameras onboard ROSETTA! We will do, surely; how can the mission scientists give a presentation without images? So, unless they’re going to insist that all their images are not reproduced after their talks, or if they show them but then flash those memory wipe pens the Men In Black use into the eyes of every scientist and journalist in the room, later today we should be able to see, finally, some of the wonders the OSIRIS team has been keeping to itself all these months.

I can only imagine how scared and excited those poor OSIRIS images are feeling at this moment. Having been kept chained up in the dungeon beneath the MPS HQ for all these months, in the cold and dark, only let out now and again to be drooled over by the OSIRIS team, a lucky few have been led back up the stairs and into the daylight, given a good hosing down and then dressed in smart clothes ready for their release. They should have been freed from captivity long ago, it’s been disgraceful and cruel, but hopefully by tomorrow morning the internet will be awash with them, and journalists and space enthusiasts alike will be able to appreciate the beautiful, close-up views of the comet’s gas and dust vents, crumbling slopes and steep cliffs the OSIRIS cameras have been taking. Can’t wait to see those, and of course I’ll share them here when they appear.

In the meantime, a couple of days ago the ESA team responsible for releasing the probe’s navcam images put out one of the best yet. If you didn’t see it, here it is…

Comet_on_10_December_2014_NavCam

Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0

Isn’t that a beauty? Some details from the ESA website: This four-image mosaic comprises images taken from a distance of 20.1 km from the centre of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 10 December. The image resolution is 1.71 m/pixel and the individual 1024 x 1024 frames measure 1.75 km across. The mosaic is slightly cropped and measures 2.9 x 2.6 km.

Again, full credit – and a huge Thank You – to the ESA team which puts out these images. Without them the mission would have faded into obscurity the day after Philae landed (and we should probably use that term loosely now!) on the comet.

Anyway, as soon as I saw that image I could see one area was just crying out to be cropped and turned into one of my landscape views – there was our best view yet of the towering cliff face on the inside of the small lobe…

cliffs ringed

Looking at that part of the image I could see that with a little work (which turned out to be a LOT of work, but never mind!) those cliffs could be isolated and their true magnificence brought out. So, that’s what I started to do, and some time later this is what I came up with… PLEASE click on it to enlarge it…

ciffs2

Isn’t that something? The view, I mean, not my work (which I will admit I am pretty pleased with). I think that is a genuinely stunning view… just imagine standing there, at the foot of those cliffs, with those huge boulders scattered all around you, craning your head back to look up at the wall looming in front of and above you…

Since I posted that image on Twitter and Facebook it has become very popular, with an amazing number of retweets and Shares, which is obviously very gratifying after all the work that went into it, but more than that I’m delighted for the ROSETTA and ESA teams who took the images and released them, because it just shows how much interest in and passion for the mission there still is “out there”. If only the OSIRIS team could grasp that, and had been sharing some of their images more regularly with us from the start, it would have made a huge difference. Oh well, after sitting on them for so long, they have no choice but to share those images this week, at the AGU in San Francisco. Can’t wait to see them! 🙂

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17 Responses

  1. That should go in your ‘places I’d like to stand’ talk 🙂

  2. […] This is a view from about 20 kilometers from comet dead center. The image is discussed at length at THIS BLOG, and also HERE. Please visit those sites. There are other images there as well as more fascinating […]

  3. […] hier, hier und hier zur anderen ROSINA-Entdeckung, ein NavCam-Bild von vor einer Woche, auch hier, hier und hier verarbeitet, ein einstündiger Vortrag, eine Spekulation über die Form des Kerns und ein […]

  4. […] Los acantilados irregulares como este fueron fotografiados por la Rosetta hace unas dos semanas. Aunque se levantan más de un kilómetro, la baja gravedad que hay en la superficie del cometa permitiría a un humano saltar en él desde arriba del todo y sobrevivir. Al pie de los acantilados hay un terreno relativamente suave salpicado de rocas de unos 20 metros de diámetro. […]

  5. It’s today’s Apod! Wonderful image – thanks so much

  6. […] launched by ESA which began orbiting the comet in early August. The ragged cliffs, as featured here, were imaged by Rosetta about two weeks ago. Although towering about one kilometer high, the low […]

  7. Some idea scale would be good. Can you place a dollar coin in there somewhere?

  8. […] launched by ESA which began orbiting the comet in early August. The ragged cliffs, as featured here, were imaged by Rosetta about two weeks ago. Although towering about one kilometer high, the low […]

  9. […] But it was Stuart Atkinson who noticed the one kilometer (0.62 mile) cliff. As he writes on his blog: […]

  10. […] più imponenti del paesaggio. “Beh, il Natale è arrivato in anticipo per me“, ha scritto Atkinson sul suo blog CumbrianSky, dopo che il suo lavoro ha meritato di essere l’immagine […]

  11. […] più imponenti del paesaggio. “Beh, il Natale è arrivato in anticipo per me“, ha scritto Atkinson sul suo blog CumbrianSky, dopo che il suo lavoro ha meritato di essere l’immagine […]

  12. […] But it was Stuart Atkinson who noticed the one kilometer (0.62 mile) cliff. As he writes on his blog: […]

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