This GIF animation shows the comet using shape data from the ‘MTPD009’ model derived during the early part of the mission using images from the NavCam navigational camera instrument. To make the video (using the Unity programming tool), we had to lower the resolution of the model by a factor of ten. Watch this space for a version that will work with virtual reality glasses in 3D.
The MiARD project will produce higher accuracy, higher resolution shape models using images from the OSIRIS camera instrument, and will release them to ESA’s database for public access. A preliminary ‘SHAP2’ model from the early stage of the mission is already public.
The shape models can be downloaded from the Planetary Science Archive of the European Space Agency – follow the ‘SHAPE’ link in the right-hand sidebar, and log-in as a guest user when prompted. More information on what a shape model is, can be found in this ESA blog entry.
The figure above shows a computational grid from Ying Liao at the University of Bern made from an accurate shape model of comet 67P. This grid (with over 140,000 facets for the cometary surface) will be used together with observed surface temperatures to test different models of outgassing. The grid resolution used for such modelling is a compromise between accuracy and computational time – each model run will take about 14 hours. The colours in the grid are to guide the eye and don’t have any scientific meaning.