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Rosetta's 'Rubber Ducky' Comet Compared to Los Angeles

Aug 19, 2014 03:14 PM EDT
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67P rubber duckey
Just how big is your average comet? Experts say that the average comet has a nucleolus that reaches out to about 6 square miles, That makes the comet that the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft just recently chased down up-to three times smaller than some of its brethren. Those figures truly don't give this enormous space rock justice. Now, a new photo has been circulating the twittersphere that has people in awe of what they thought was a "tiny" comet.
(Photo : ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM )

Just how big is your average comet? Experts say that the average comet has a nucleolus that reaches out to about 6 square miles, That makes the comet that the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft just recently chased down up-to three times smaller than some of its brethren. Those figures truly don't give this enormous space rock justice. Now, a new photo has been circulating the twittersphere that has people in awe of what they thought was a "tiny" comet.

According to NASA and the ESA, the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is only about 2.2-by-2.5 miles in size - numbers that sound small on paper compared to the enormous celestial bodies space agencies traditionally set their sights on.

However, thanks to a photo provided by Twitter user Michael "@quark1972," you can see a comparison between 67P and the modern city of Los Angeles.

The twitter user recently admitted to not being the creator of the photo, and enthusiasts have confirmed that the size comparison is not 100 percent accurate (the whole of the LA area is ~500 sq. mi).

Still, they admit that it's certainly more than adequate to remind us just how massive miles-and-miles of frozen water, dust, and stone can really be.

The ESA's Rosetta spacecraft has been chasing its comet quarry for nearly 11 years, and only just successfully slipped into orbit around the titanic chunk of space-rock this August.

Early physical images of the comet as Rosetta closed in revealed the unusual shape of 67P's solid nucleus. Like the fused halves or a malformed peanut, the international community quickly began calling the comet Rosetta's "rubber ducky."

Now, they can finally understand that this is one ducky you wouldn't want to bathe with.

Rosetta, however, will be keeping close company with the comet, planning to deploy a small lander that will touch down on the frozen behemoth's surface this November. The survey mission will continue for a full year, until 67P grows too close to the Sun for Rosetta in August 2015.

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