Apr 21, 2019 | Updated: 07:00 AM EDT

Rosetta Mission Update: Dunes Found On Comet 67P/Chury Hint At Presence Of Wind And Grains

Feb 25, 2017 12:13 AM EST

Sol187B Dunas em Marte
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons /NASA/JPL/Cornell) As NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity creeps farther into "Endurance Crater," the dune field on the crater floor appears even more dramatic. This approximate true-color panoramic camera image highlights the reddish-colored dust present throughout the scene.

Unexpected images of dune-like patterns on the surface of comet "Chury" have surprised the space scientists. The images have been sent from the Rosetta spacecraft and the scientists are more than surprised to see them.

According to Phys.org, the researchers at the Laboratoire de Physique et Mecanique des Milleux Heterogenes studied the images of comet "Chury" and has blamed the emission of vapor as the reason for the phenomenon. They say that it is due to the strong pressure difference between the sunlit side of comet "Chury" and the side opposite to it, which causes winds able to transport grains and form dunes.

Comets generally do not have a dense, permanent atmosphere as that of earth. However, the images captured by the OSIRIS camera on board the Rosetta spacecraft has shown the presence of dune-like formations ten meters apart on the surface of comet "Chury", originally dubbed 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Two images of the same spot on the comet's surface taken at an interval of 16 months were compared to show that the formations are moving and therefore are active.

According to Universe Today, the dunes were seen on both the "lobes" of comet "Chury" and on the neck that connects them. As per the researchers, there is indeed the wind that blows along the comet's surface. The gasses that escape from the surface are responsible for this.

As per the researchers, the gravity on comet "Chury" is also very weak, only about 1/50000 of that of earth. An analysis of the forces exerted on the grains at the comet's surface shows that the thermal winds are capable of transporting centimeter-scale grains. The conditions required for the formation of dunes on Chury's surface are met this way.

The researchers are of the opinion that this finding is very significant in understanding the various processes that work on the surfaces of comets. They are also looking forward to the Rosetta mission to bestow them with more surprises and discoveries, just like the one found on the surface of comet "Chury".


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