Image release allows viewers to tour the Imhotep region of 67P

10 pictures

An ESA graphic highlighting points of interest on the Imhotep region(Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

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New ESA images allow the public to take an in-depth tour of the Imhotep region of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P). Located close to the comet's equator, Imhotep is thought to be one of the most geologically diverse regions of 67P, with observations of the area contributing greatly to our understanding of the wandering celestial bodies.

Images of the Imhotep region were released in the wake of the news that Rosetta's partner in crime, the Philae lander, had once again fallen silent. Despite the loss, the orbiter continues to characterize and soak up as much information as possible about the comet as it nears its closest encounter with the Sun, known as perihelion.

Roughly a third of Imhotep is characterized by relatively smooth terrain. It is believed that these areas were allowed to evolve slowly, with fine grains of material eroded from nearby cliffs having time to settle and accumulate.

In contrast, rockier regions dominate the periphery of Imhotep. Here sublimation of underground materials has led to the erosion of the landscape, leaving swathes of terrain scattered with debris and boulders.

Mission scientists will be keen to observe how regions such as Imhotep evolve as the comet approaches and subsequently distances itself from perihelion, which will herald a period of intense activity as frozen materials inside the comet are released by solar energy.

Source: ESA

View gallery - 10 images

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