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Space & Astronomy

Rosetta finds exposed water ice on comet

By T.K. Randall
June 28, 2015 · Comment icon 4 comments

The Rosetta spacecraft has identified patches of water ice. Image Credit: CC BY-3.0 DLR
The Rosetta spacecraft has found what appears to be patches of ice on the surface of comet 67P.
The probe, which became the first spacecraft in history to go in to orbit around a comet when it arrived in August of last year, has already returned a wealth of information as part of its ongoing efforts to conduct the most detailed study of a comet ever undertaken.

Now scientists have revealed that the probe has recorded images of what appear to be patches of exposed water ice on the comet's surface. The patches are located in shaded areas where they are protected from the sun's heat and appear ten times brighter than the surrounding rock.

Further confirmation should be obtainable once the comet reaches its closest approach to the sun.

"As the comet continues to approach perihelion, the increase in solar illumination onto the bright patches that were once in shadow should cause changes in their appearance, and we may expect to see new and even larger regions of exposed ice," said project scientist Matt Taylor.

Source: Tech Times | Comments (4)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Sundew 9 years ago
I guess that is hardly surprising since comets have long been thought to be composed of ice, dust and rock. It is really cool to be able to get back data from the comet.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 9 years ago
I guess that is hardly surprising since comets have long been thought to be composed of ice, dust and rock. Yes, but it is generally expected that they would be in a mixture. What has been discovered are areas of pure ice on the surface. This has not been observed before.
Comment icon #3 Posted by AZDZ 9 years ago
The comet has been outgassing, correct? Perhaps the mixture elements separate upon being released then some of the water vapor re-freezes as water ice and falls back. I'm picturing a tea kettle with a whistling feature. Once boiling pressure is achieved and the spout begins to whistle, looking closely would reveal two things; a stream of steam cleaning blowing out and away but around the nozzle, little sputters and spatters of already re-condensing/ed water would be present. Maybe a similar kind of thing occurs at jet openings under the right conditions. I'm totally spit-balling here folks.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 8 years ago
Exposed ice on Rosetta’s comet confirmed as water 13 January 2016 Observations made shortly after Rosetta’s arrival at its target comet in 2014 have provided definitive confirmation of the presence of water ice.Although water vapour is the main gas seen flowing from comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, the great majority of ice is believed to come from under the comet’s crust, and very few examples of exposed water ice have been found on the surface. Read more...


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