The European Space Agency has just released the first full color image of Comet 67P, and prepare to be underwhelmed: the comet is dark gray!
To create this photo, the Rosetta spacecraft took three images through three different color filters, and then superimposed the images. The result is a photo that shows a color image of the comet, although scientists did have to modify the brightness a bit.
"As it turns out, 67P looks dark grey, in reality almost as black as coal," said Principal Investigator Holger Seirks, from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research. "In order to make surface details visible, the intensity of these images is enhanced, thus creating lighter hues of grey."
Scientists glean a lot of information from this type of image. For example, the image shows no signs of surface ice. Such icy patches would be recognizable as bluish features, thus appearing brighter in the blue filter than in the other filters. So, it appears that the comet's ice is neatly hidden underneath the surface.
Rosetta will continue orbiting 67P for the next year as it gets closer to the sun, thus observing and analyzing gases and other material released from the comet as it starts developing its tails (comets have two tails). Those images are going to be spectacular!
Follow me on Twitter: @PaulGrossLocal4
Find more stories like this at ClickOnDetroit.com/Thermoscope.