Simulated view of Rosetta spying an infant bow shock at the comet
This animation shows a simulated view of ESA's Rosetta spacecraft at its target, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, on 24 February 2016.
The comet is represented in grey in the left-hand frame, while the small cyan satellite represents the simulated Rosetta spacecraft. The simulation reconstructs the plasma conditions when Rosetta spotted an infant bow shock in the process of 'unforming': this infant bow shock can be seen as the sweeping red-yellow curve. The colours show the proton density for the region – the number of protons found within a cubic cm – as indicated in the bar at the top, with red-yellow being a high and black-blue a low density. In this frame, the Sun is on the right-hand side, meaning that the solar wind flows from right to left.
The magnetic field strength around the comet can be seen in the bottom-right panel. As the simulated Rosetta crosses the shock, two spikes appear in the field strength, which also correlate with the shock-related effects seen in the upper two right-hand panels.