Move over, Halley: 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko may now be the most famous comet in the cosmos. Comet 67P has been the photogenic subject of many images sent back by the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission. The mission’s Philae lander made space history by successfully settling onto the surface of the comet last month.
This leaves us with a curious question: what does 67P look like in color? An image accompanying a presentation for an upcoming American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco offers up an intriguing option. The comet may be slightly reddish. The presentation, titled “Color Variegation on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko,” is set for December 18, at which point more information on the image is expected to be released.
In the meantime, we’re left with some speculation as to what the image depicts.
Some comet-watchers are guessing this new OSIRIS picture is the first true-color image of the comet to be released. However, the ESA has previously described the comet as “extremely dark” and “blacker than coal.” The slight blurriness of the image can be attributed to it being a combination of images taken with red, green and blue filters which were then superimposed to create the final reddish image. The blurriness stems from the comet’s rotation between exposures.