67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. A Single Body That’s Been Stretched- Part 17.


(Original, unannotated photo is reproduced at the end of this post).

This post is twinned with Part 16, the second of a pair of posts on simple, obvious matches based on recent NAVCAM photos. In part 18 we’ll return to a fourth monolith that floated across the width of the crater known as Site A.

The header photo shows the Anuket region of the neck and Anubis region of the body which are both becoming more and more illuminated as 67P rounds the sun towards perihelion in August 2015. The gradual creep in illumination is towards the right of the frame and, as a result, matches are emerging as they slowly cross from the dark side to the light side of the terminator. There’s a significant large-scale match, running for a kilometre or more along the head rim and shear line.

The head rim appears to follow an obvious corresponding line on the body. The two lines look as if they would fit together without any swiveling around (rotation in any axis) to seat them. In other words, they are almost perfectly parallel. This chimes with the tenets of stretch theory as described thus far because this is the most tipped-up part of the head rim due to being in line with the comet’s rotation plane (Part 10). This in turn means that the head rim at this point lifted straight up and parallel to the body, like the lid of a box. The front of the lid remains parallel to the body of the box whereas the sides of the lid are sloped with respect to the box body. Indeed the side of the head has been shown in numerous photos to be sloping up at about 30°-35° and this has been commented on in many parts of this series with specific reference to the tip-up being in line with the rotation plane, especially in Parts 10 and 11.

The two red-dotted lines would also require almost no sideways, translational adjustments, just the obvious downward translation to close the lid, so to speak. This is the exact reverse scenario of the stretch and tip that has been posited for stretch theory as the head lifted from the body.

So this simple closing of the lid to marry the matches is not just explained in retrospect by stretch theory but fully expected in advance.


If the head and body lobes were two comets that had drifted together to form a contact binary, they would have had to come together while sporting these two ridges that match perfectly in 3 rotational axes (6 degrees of rotational freedom) and 2 out of 3 translational axes (4 out of 6 degrees of translational freedom). That means the two lines in the header photo have affinity in 10 out of the possible 12 degrees of freedom. The chance of this happening is virtually nil.

Imagine hurling a skyscraper-sized monolith from the other side of the sun, only to find that it landed in New York City, perfectly upright, its footprint perfectly aligned with the grid system but somehow hovering one kilometre above its designated block in the grid. That illustrates the coincidences needed for two such far-flung bodies to unite in the deep recesses of the Kuiper belt and satisfy 10 of the 12 degrees of freedom in the process.

Furthermore, they would have to approach each other at less than 1m/sec while both orbiting at speeds of anywhere between 400m/sec (per Sedna’s aphelion velocity at 936 AU) and 6km/sec (Pluto’s perihelion velocity inside Neptune’s orbit). This requires an absolute velocity match to within 0.25% at the very least and an approach angle of no more than sin-1(1/400). That would be the angle whose sin is 1/400, which is 0.15 degrees. This slimmest of chances would in fact be their best chance to come together and would apply only at 900 AU, for a few hundred years every few thousand years. In other words, both bodies would have to be, essentially, in identical orbits to have any chance of coalescing.

If 67P really is a contact binary, then this virtually impossible close approach dynamic for the two lobes had to satisfied or they would have simply sailed right on past each other. This, along with the astonishing affinity between the lobes, once they were joined, is an indication of the exquisitely accurate formation flying that these two supposedly disparate Kuiper belt objects are capable of. Not to mention their capacity for some sort of action-at-a-distance shape telepathy.


With regard to the other alternative theory, asymmetrical erosion of a single body, why would the two edges of the eroded cavity exhibit such convoluted, small-scale matching features sitting one kilometre apart?


There is a particularly good correlation in the lower-right section of the header photo match. It’s reproduced here, zoomed in and matched in finer detail. Zooming is required as well as scrolling up and down to compare the two lines. The dots are small so as not to obscure the matching features.
Red: head-to-body match.

Green: an apparent matching strata feature i.e. a feature that has a 3-dimensional depth and is therefore replicated at a lower stratum layer. See the last few paragraphs for more discussion on the 3-dimensional nature of the matching lines, which will shed more light on this phenomenon.


The Anubis missing slab was briefly mentioned once before and it deserves a post of its own. However, it’s intimately related to this post’s match, so it’s included in order to understand the 3D properties of the match.

As well as showing the head fitting to the body, the header photo exhibits a noticeable triangular protrusion on the head rim. The photo is reproduced below with the protrusion annotated. But there is more than one protrusion. There are two more, directly below the main one. They’re sticking out of the neck and similarly triangular in shape. There are a few more stunted ones below that.
Red- main match as described above.

Yellow- tips of the three most obvious triangular protrusions. The more stunted ones extend below these three (not annotated due to risk of obscuring them).

Bright green- body protrusions (see below)

Orange- probable body ‘protrusion’ that has completely drooped over flat.

Mauve- another 3-dimensional depth match. This sits just in front of both red lines. See final paragraph.

Viewed together, these triangular head and neck protrusions look as if they used to be pressed together like the layers in a wafer or perhaps a compressed concertina. When the neck stretched, they were pulled apart but in line with each other just like the folds of the opening concertina.

It would be tempting to match the head protrusions to that obvious right-hand protrusion on the body, marked with bright green dots. They would have been seated near to this point when compressed together but probably not right on it. This is because this body protrusion and those to the left of it mark the boundary of Anubis which bears all the hallmarks of being the site of another missing slab (see Part 9 for the mechanism of departure for slabs A and B). This would explain the wholly different morphology of this region and the different morphology is certainly the reason for it being delineated by ESA as a separate region and named ‘Anubis’.

The height of that body protrusion (about 50 metres) and the others to the left of it would correspond to the depth of the slab. It’s where the slab would have torn away from the body and so these protrusions are now drooping over under the force of gravity, just like large portions of the Site A rim are currently drooping outwards where missing slab A tore away (slab A, sited on Landing Site A; Part 9). The orange, dotted line marks one probable protrusion that has drooped over completely and is now lying flat against the surface. The edge of the Anubis missing slab would have taken on the imprint of these body protrusions.

This indicates that there was a lot of upheaval along this top perimeter of Anubis and the best fit for the concertinaed head protrusions is to a point that’s just behind that drooping body protrusion. The body protrusions appear to have resisted detachment along with the slab because they are the resilient rims of craters and sited just beyond the sudden, 90° turn in the body surface topography.

The concertinaed head protrusions might just as easily have been left behind on the body, intact and unstretched, alongside the body protrusions. For this reason, it could well be that the matching point for these head protrusions was also imprinted on the narrow edge of the slab that departed long ago.

Indeed, this fact has profound implications for this post’s main match in the header photo. It allows us to venture into the third dimension, thus further corroborating the match. Some eagle-eyed readers may have spotted that the red match line on the head lobe is actually following a ridge with a constant depth (around 50 metres) like a rebated rim and yet it appears to match just a one-dimensional line on the body that starts just to the right of that right hand body protrusion. One would expect it to match to a corresponding 50-metre-wide shelf on the body, not a line.

The triangular head protrusion is integral to this rebate and the fact that it may have seated against the edge of the Anubis slab gives us a clue to answering this paradox: the whole of the rebated rim was likely attached to the edge of the Anubis slab. The angle is correct- the rebate is angled inwards at 90° to the surface of the head and, for that matter, to the body as well, just like the edge of the slab would have been. In other words, this rebated rim is just another version of the body protrusions and when the head was seated on the body, the rim would have continued on from its body protrusion counterparts. Together, they would have formed the vertical edge of the tray that contained the Anubis slab.

The width of both the rebated head rim and all the body protrusions is the same, about 50 metres. These are two different sets of features that point strongly to the missing Anubis slab being 50 metres thick. So the expected 50-metre-wide shelf on the body was indeed there, but it was integral to the slab that departed.

That one-dimensional red line in the header photo, constituting the body match, would therefore correspond to the bottom of the edge of the Anubis slab just before it lifted off. It also means that the red line on the head lobe should really be matched to the top edge of the missing slab and not the red body line. But the slab is long-gone so the body line was used as a proxy for convenience. The true match to the red body line is in fact the inner edge of the rebated head rim, that is, the line in the shadows that is running parallel to the outer edge of the rebate that’s dotted red (see next photo). It’s a testament to the faithfulness of the matches that the outer edge of the rebate could be used as a proxy for the inner edge and yet still match to the body line so dramatically. In reality, if you seated the head back down onto the body, the head dotted line would be hovering 50 metres above the body dotted line, twisting and turning along the entire length of that faithful match. Together, they would define both the perimeter line and the thickness of the Anubis slab.

Put another way, the rebated head rim, as we see it today, is itself the imprint of the edge of the Anubis slab.

The following photo with a rather alarming array of colours is included as an attempt to explain the above. It’s taken from a slightly different angle from the header photo and shows up the head lobe’s rebated rim more favourably. Red- shows the inner and outer rims of the head rebate and their corresponding paths when the head was seated on the body. The bottom body line is the same as it is in the header photo and corresponds to the inner head rim. It runs just behind the mauve-dotted formation and is extended beyond its header photo position as far as the bottom of the green-dotted body protrusions. This line traces the bottom edge of the Anubis slab. The upper body line corresponds to the outer edge of the head rim and is therefore floating in ‘mid air’ and faithfully following the line of its lower counterpart. It traces the upper edge of the missing Anubis slab. It is extended beyond the header photo position to the point where the upper edge of the slab would have married to the upper edges of the green body protrusions.

Light blue- this should be treated as part of the red line. It’s annotated in blue simply because the path of the inner head rim at this point isn’t quite as clear as for the rest of the rebate- it could be further to the lower left and so is more provisional. The body line has been changed to blue as well, just to show where it sits but this line isn’t so speculative as it matches the outer head rim as per the header photo. This fact suggests that the blue line on the head is indeed in the right place but nevertheless, it’s difficult to tell where the rebate turns to become the neck.

Dark Blue- please ignore this. It’s a rogue dot.

Other colours are as for the previous photo, except that there is a large, yellow dot between and behind the first two body protrusions. This denotes the probable seating position of the triangular head protrusions when concertinaed together. Its position was plotted by measuring the distance from the uppermost head protrusion to the sharp downward turn. This was then transferred to the body line.

The mauve-dotted match isn’t exact. There is missing material that was sandwiched between them and there is an issue with the apparent angles which suggest one is at 90° to the other. However it may just be a perspective issue on a feature that ran at 45° through the slab-body join.

Copyright ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0

67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. A Single Body That’s Been Stretched- Part 16.


This is an ESA mosaic showing a top-down view of 67P (from exactly above the head). It confirms the 22 matches made in Parts 1 and 2 of this series. Yellow dots- head rim; terracotta dots- shear line. Please refer to the appendix to this post for the original component photos of the mosaic and consequent assurance regarding the correct interpretation of one small anomaly in the stitched version.


This was going to be a single post before resuming with rock D in Part 17. But this post eventually became long enough to split into three: another part on simple matches and a further part which will be a hypothesis on the nature and formation of the wavy line from Parts 1 and 2. So Part 17 will now be a continuation of the simple matches theme, Part 18 will be rock D, and somewhere past Part 20, the wavy line will get another airing.


In Parts 14 and 15 we looked at giant monoliths that had floated across the surface of 67P and we’ll look at another one, rock D, in Part 18. In the meantime, it seemed appropriate to have a rest from rotation planes and spin rates and return to the basic evidence that suggests 67P is a stretched comet. This is because a more recent NAVCAM photo (Cometwatch 21st January; ESA Rosetta blog) has confirmed the matches found in Parts 1 and 2. Those matches were between the underside of the head lobe rim and the body lobe ‘shear line’. The shear line is the line along which the head sheared from the body. The 22 separate matches followed the twists and turns of a wavy line along the head rim (sometimes a little way in from it on the Hathor cliff) that was replicated along the shear line (similarly, sometimes a little way in). That is to say, 22 turning points on the head wavy line matched 22 similar turning points on the body wavy line, one set being the mirror image of the other. Their set-back from the head rim therefore allowed us to plot the position of the actual shear line on the body. This was especially accurate for the well-documented rectangle (Parts 5 and 7) which has an elongated slurry pile running to some 400 metres along its back perimeter that corresponds to the frilly edge of the head rim above it. The frilly edge was likely pushed up by the escaping slurry and gases. 

To be quite clear, the matching lines in the header photo aren’t the result of some sudden, breathless “Eureka” moment after hours of trawling the comet photos for some match, any match. The dotted lines show the circa 1-kilometre section of matching head rim and shear line, whose 30+ matches were described in minute detail in Parts 1-7 of this series, to the point where I could quite forgive any detractors for saying, “please, just put a lid on it and just show us the match in one incontrovertible photo!” Well, this is that photo.

Another property of the dotted lines in the photo is that as well as being the same shape they obey the law of perspective. The photo was taken at a distance of 27.9 km from the comet centre. This puts the terracotta line at a distance of about 27km and the yellow line at a distance of 25.5-26km. That makes the yellow line roughly 94-96% as distant as the terracotta line and so the terracotta line ought to be 94-96% of the yellow line’s length. It appears to be 92.5-94.5% with about a 2% error margin for measurement error. So if the head was pushed back down onto the body, the two lines would match in length as well as shape. 

And finally, the yellow and terracotta lines in the header photo betray exactly the same 15 degrees of anticlockwise head rotation as the only other top-down match to date, shown in Part 3. Although this is an afterthought, tacked onto the end of a post, it’s another stunning piece of evidence against the argument that two disparate bodies drifted together at random to form a contact binary. The chance of this angle being replicated exactly in both of the two top-down matches to date is 1 in 180 at the very least (assuming a conservative, 2-degree error in the measurement of the angle).

Here are both photos, reproduced with the angle of rotation drawn in red dots (zoom required). Apologies for the sloppy estimation of 5-10 degrees in past posts- this time it was measured with a protractor to within a degree or so.


The header photo should not be regarded in isolation. Although the match is near-perfect, it is just confirmation of a wealth of evidence catalogued in Parts 1-7 and should come as no surprise at all to those who have read those parts. Its appeal is in the fact that the 1-kilometre match is captured in one photo but the evidence in Parts 1-7 is, frankly, even more compelling.

Copyright ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0


The left-hand portion of the terracotta line, after the sharp turn, appears to run through a non-descript, fuzzy area. This is because it is where the mosaic of the four NAVCAM photos was stitched together. A more faithful representation of this small portion was cut from the bottom left of the four photos. This was presumably done by ESA in favour of melding the top right and bottom right photos in the mosaic.

The path of the terracotta line through the fuzzy area faithfully traces the path of a ridge that is clearly apparent in the discarded bottom-left portion from the original set. This ridge comprises the end of the famed rectangle. It’s a very small section which has been specifically referred to on numerous occasions, most importantly as being the site of the 3D-matched ‘gull wings’ described in Part 5. Here is the original ESA NAVCAM  set of four from Cometwatch 21st January: