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July 13, 2010 10:42 PM   Subscribe

The European Space Agency's Rosetta craft has returned stunning images of the asteroid 21 Lutetia, including this one which couples Lutetia with a member of our planetary family.

The images are highly detailed because Rosetta is equipped with cameras that far outdo many of the most familiar spacecraft cameras. The ESA maintains the Rosetta Blog where more details on the entire mission can be found and they have a collection of images which spans the spacecraft's mission, including its earlier fly-by of asteroid 2867 Steins. Next up, the first orbit of a comet nucleus and the first controlled landing on a cometary surface, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014. (Previously)
posted by IvoShandor (21 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's clearly just a picture of a chunk of Styrofoam. Wake up sheeple!
posted by oddman at 10:46 PM on July 13, 2010


It's lonely out in space.(musical symbol)
posted by Trochanter at 10:51 PM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Neat, but compared to the goal of the Rosetta craft this flyby is like stopping off at a roadside historical marker on the way to Sex Disneyland.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:06 PM on July 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


Musical Symbol?

♩? Or ♫?
posted by Talez at 11:47 PM on July 13, 2010


So gorgeous. So remote! How does one respond to such images except to sigh... and maybe set a new wallpaper.

Speaking of sighing... when I was a kid we used to have this little two-person meme that went something like:

"Where do you live?" "In my house"
"Where's your house?" "In New Delhi."
"Where's New Delhi?" "In India."
"Where's India?" "In Asia."
"Where's Asia?" "On the earth."
"Where's the earth?" "In the universe."
"Where's the universe?" "In the air"
"Where's the air?" "Umm..."
"In youuuuuuu!" [*poke in stomach*]

It's silly and doesn't work once you grow up a little and realize the universe isn't actually "in the air" - but it made a lot of intuitive sense to 5-year-old me that everything in the world was actually in me.

posted by mondaygreens at 11:49 PM on July 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


A little quick and dirty math for size comparison.
Lutetia's dimensions are 132km × 101km × 76km; that's 82mi x 62mi x 45mi. Her two broad dimension describe about 5,084 sq mi. The state of Connecticut is about 5,544 sq. mi.
posted by charlesminus at 12:13 AM on July 14, 2010


It's lonely out in space.
posted by Trochanter at 12:46 AM on July 14, 2010


(musical cymbal)
posted by pracowity at 1:20 AM on July 14, 2010


[21 Lutetia] ain't the kind of place to raise your kids
In fact, it's cold as hell
And there's no one there to raise them
If you did[n't want to do the job yourself, for some reason.] ♫
posted by Iridic at 2:12 AM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sadly ESA images aren't public domain, so Wikipedia can't post photos from ESA probes unless it includes a lot of fair-use excuses and whatnot. So I don't think Lutetia photos could appear on the main page, for example.
posted by gubo at 5:21 AM on July 14, 2010


Reminds me of the semesters I spent cataloging the photographs of the summer's finds from my achaeology professor's dig site. OMG check out THIS pot shard!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:31 AM on July 14, 2010


The crescent shot is very cool. Thanks!
posted by aught at 7:36 AM on July 14, 2010


♫ We got the empire, now as then,
We don't doubt, we don't take direction,
[Lutetia], my reflection, dance the ghost with me...♫
posted by bison at 8:30 AM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


including this one which couples Lutetia with a member of our planetary family

Oh, Saturn, you vain bling-bling planet, is it not enough that you're one of the most photographed in the system? A meek lumpy little asteroid finally gets her day in front of the camera and you can't resist photo-bombing her debut.
posted by CynicalKnight at 9:16 AM on July 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


How does one pronounce Lutetia?
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 9:32 AM on July 14, 2010


How does one pronounce Lutetia?

If a spacecraft pilot jostles out of a shallow doze in front of his unattended flight controls and sees Aught's crescent image looming in their viewscreen, quite shrilly I'd think.



I'd guess loo-teh-shee-ah
posted by CynicalKnight at 9:44 AM on July 14, 2010


Where do these grooves/striations come from?
posted by edguardo at 10:16 AM on July 14, 2010


She saw his big red spot from across the crowded belt, and drifted closer to catch his gravity. They had two wild orbits together, and although she eventually decided his satellite posse was "a little crowded", she'll never forget the gas giant she called Jupe'.

And that's How Lutetia Got Her Grooved Back.
posted by CynicalKnight at 11:59 AM on July 14, 2010


Where do these grooves/striations come from?

There is no consensus. They look very similar to what exist on Phobos, one of Mars' moons.
One theory is that they were generated at some point when the asteroid passed repeatedly through a ring system similar to Saturns.
Another is that a very large impact, just below the limit for what would have shattered the asteroid, created 'ripples' on the surface.
posted by Catfry at 2:53 PM on July 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Catfry, are you a, uh, space professional? Because I have more questions. :D

One theory is that they were generated at some point when the asteroid passed repeatedly through a ring system similar to Saturns.

They do look like they've been formed by some kind of abrasion. But if this is the case, how likely would the asteroid be to escape the orbit of Saturn/Jupiter/whoever? Are these stripes seen on a lot of asteroids? If so, what are they all doing flying through the rings of gas giants (repeatedly)?

Another is that a very large impact, just below the limit for what would have shattered the asteroid, created 'ripples' on the surface.

What other features on an asteroid would lend weight to this particular explanation? And is this seen on other massive bodies following large impacts? Is it simplistic to just expect a crater?
posted by edguardo at 11:12 PM on July 14, 2010


Catfry, are you a, uh, space professional? Because I have more questions. :D

Nope, I'm a parrot. I parrot others.

They do look like they've been formed by some kind of abrasion. But if this is the case, how likely would the asteroid be to escape the orbit of Saturn/Jupiter/whoever? Are these stripes seen on a lot of asteroids? If so, what are they all doing flying through the rings of gas giants (repeatedly)?

The early solar system looked different to now, with many more smaller bodies, more dust and more chaotic orbits. some theorize that ring systems like those we know of today were more common. As for escape, today the solar system is quite orderly and it doesn't really happen, but any moon/planet system can be disturbed and the moon can be gravitationally slingshot away by a third unrelated body in a different orbit passing close by.

Are these stripes seen on a lot of asteroids?

We haven't seen enough asteroids close up to say whether there are a lot of them with those grooves.

What other features on an asteroid would lend weight to this particular explanation? And is this seen on other massive bodies following large impacts? Is it simplistic to just expect a crater?

I cannot answer that. www.unmannedspaceflight.com if you wish to get deeper into these topics. Those people are the most knowledgeable I know of.
posted by Catfry at 6:37 AM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


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