Close pass by sun didn’t radically alter comet 67P’s landscape | Science News

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Close pass by sun didn’t radically alter comet 67P’s landscape

Despite cliff collapses and other seasonal changes, comet features are old, study says

10:30am, March 21, 2017
comet 67P

DUST UP  A plume of dust (indicated by arrow) shoots from comet 67P in this image from the Rosetta spacecraft. New data show that a cliff collapsing on the comet’s surface caused the outburst.

At least one of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko’s dusty outbursts was the result of a landslide. But such changes to the surface of the comet haven’t radically altered its appearance, suggesting it has had roughly the same look for decades — or longer.

Images from the Rosetta spacecraft taken before its demise show what happened to the comet as it passed close to the sun in 2015. Cliffs collapsed, ripplelike features about 100 meters across appeared and disappeared, dust eroded and boulders moved about — probably as a result of changes in exposure to sunlight, researchers report online March 21 in Science.

Another team of researchers also studied images of the comet’s surface, specifically what a cliff called Aswan looked like before and after dust shot out from the comet on

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