PIA21565: Rosetta's Moving Cometary Boulder

Rosetta’s Moving Cometary Boulder


A 100 foot-wide (30 meter), 28-million-pound (12.8-million-kilogram) boulder, was found to have moved 460 feet (140 meters) on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in the lead up to perihelion in August 2015, when the comet's activity was at its highest. In both images, an arrow points to the boulder; in the right-hand image, the dotted circle outlines the original location of the boulder for reference.

The movement could have been triggered in one of two ways: either the material on which it was sitting eroded away, allowing it to roll downslope, or a sufficiently forceful outburst could have directly lifted it to the new location. Indeed, several outburst events were detected close to the original position of the boulder during perihelion.

The images were taken by Rosetta's OSIRIS camera on May 2, 2015 (left) and Feb. 7, 2016 (right), with resolutions of 7.5 feet (2.3 meters) per pixel and 2.6 feet (0.8 meters) per pixel, respectively.

Background Info:

Rosetta is a European Space Agency mission with contributions from its member states and NASA. Rosetta's Philae lander is provided by a consortium led by the German Aerospace Center, Cologne; Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Gottingen; French National Space Agency, Paris; and the Italian Space Agency, Rome. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the U.S. participation in the Rosetta mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information on the U.S. instruments aboard Rosetta, visit http://rosetta.jpl.nasa.gov .

More information about Rosetta is available at http://www.esa.int/rosetta .

Cataloging Keywords:

Name Value Additional Values
Target 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
System Periodic Comets
Target Type Comet
Mission Rosetta
Instrument Host Rosetta Orbiter Philae Lander
Host Type Orbiter Lander
Instrument Optical, Spectrocopic and Infrared Remote Imaging System (OSIRIS)
Extra Keywords Color, Infrared
Acquisition Date
Release Date 2017-03-21
Date in Caption 2015-05-02 2016-02-07
Source photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA21565
Identifier PIA21565