An amateur British astronomer was looking through images of Comet 67P and found a previously unknown vertical cliff, that some on the web are describing as resembling Mordor from Lord of the Rings.
The original image was captured on December 10 by Rosetta’s NavCam 20.1 km from the center of the comet.
From Stuart Atkinson’s blog:
[As] soon as I saw that image I could see one area was just crying out to be cropped and turned into one of my landscape views – there was our best view yet of the towering cliff face on the inside of the small lobe…Looking at that part of the image I could see that with a little work (which turned out to be a LOT of work, but never mind!) those cliffs could be isolated and their true magnificence brought out. So, that’s what I started to do, and some time later this is what I came up with…
The image shows a smooth terrain at the foot of the cliff, dotted by boulders.
Atkinson’s discovery earned him NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day yesterday. But in a humble acknowledgement, he said the image wouldn’t have been possible if the European Space Agency didn’t make the original photos available to the public.
I am so, so happy about that, seriously. Not just because personally it is nice to have an image which took a long time to make being seen and shared so widely now, but mainly because it shows why the ESA decision to regularly release navcam images from the ROSETTA mission was the right one to take – it has allowed people like me to use ROSETTA images for Outreach, and to promote the mission to the media and the public. Every reTweet and every FB share and comment proves how much interest in the mission there is out here. People are blown away by that image and the view of the cliffs it shows, so thank you AGAIN to ESA for letting us see the navcam images and allowing us to use and play with them!