Pow! Rosetta probe spots comet eruption

Image: Rosetta image of comet eruption

The OSIRIS wide-angle camera on the European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe captured this view of an outburst from the Atum region on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Feb. 19. (Credit: ESA / Rosetta / MPS for OSIRIS Team, MPS / UPD / LAM / IAA / SSO / INTA / UPM / DASP / IDA)

The scientists behind the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission to a comet today released an amazing series of pictures showing the space mountain flashing with an outburst of dust and gas.

They suspect that the Feb. 19 outburst, captured by Rosetta’s instruments from a distance of about 20 miles, may have been triggered by a landslide.

“Over the last year, Rosetta has show that although activity can be prolonged, when it comes to outbursts, the timing is highly unpredictable, so catching an event like this was pure luck,” Matt Taylor, ESA’s Rosetta project scientist, said in a news release. “By happy coincidence, we were pointing the majority of instruments at the comet at this time, and having these simultaneous measurements provides us with the most complete set of data on an outburst ever collected.”

The readings were sent back soon after the eruption, but it took months to reconstruct the chain of events behind it. Now a research paper about the phenomenon has been published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

About Alan Boyle

Award-winning science writer, creator of Cosmic Log, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.
This entry was posted in GeekWire and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.