Landru79 created this spectacular GIF from images captured in 2016 on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko by the European Space Agency lander Philae deployed by the Rosetta probe. The video is significantly sped up, compressing 25 minutes into a few seconds of intense action. But what exactly are we looking at in this pandemonium? From New Scientist:
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Much of this apparent “snow” wouldn’t actually be visible if you were standing on 67P’s surface. It is made of cosmic rays – charged subatomic particles that flit across the universe. As they hit the camera’s sensors, they register as streaks of light.
Some of bright specks are actually snow – dust and ice particles floating above the comet’s surface. And many of them are stars behind the rocky cliffside on 67P’s surface.