December 10, 2019

Photos from Rosetta’s Valentine’s Day comet close-up


If you would like to see more articles like this please support our coverage of the space program by becoming a Spaceflight Now Member. If everyone who enjoys our website helps fund it, we can expand and improve our coverage further.

Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft — six months into its mission at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko — made its closest flyby of the comet’s boulder-strewn nucleus Saturday, capturing photos and measurements to help scientists unravel how the duck-shaped body is evolving on its path around the sun.

Rosetta flew just six kilometers — about 3.7 miles — from the comet’s surface Saturday. Scientists will be analyzing the full results of the encounter for months, but the European Space Agency released the first imagery from the close-up Monday.

The images come from Rosetta’s navigation camera, which ground controllers use to help navigate the solar-powered probe around the vicinity of the comet. Photos from Rosetta’s OSIRIS science camera should be released about two weeks after the flyby.

A four-image mosaic of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken by Rosetta's navigation camera at a distance of 8.9 kilometers (5.5 miles) from the surface. The image is centered on the comet's Imhotep region, located on 67P's large lobe. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM
A four-image mosaic of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken by Rosetta’s navigation camera at a distance of 8.9 kilometers (5.5 miles) from the surface. The image is centered on the comet’s Imhotep region, located on 67P’s large lobe, showing boulders, dune-like deposits and steep topographic features. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM
One frame from Rosetta's navigation camera shows sharp terrain on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM
One frame from Rosetta’s navigation camera shows sharp terrain on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM
A four-frame composite image of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken 31.6 kilometers (19.6 miles) from the comet's center as Rosetta flew away from the nucleus after Saturday's flyby. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM
A four-frame composite image of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken 31.6 kilometers (19.6 miles) from the comet’s center as Rosetta flew away from the nucleus after Saturday’s flyby. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


If you would like to see more articles like this please support our coverage of the space program by becoming a Spaceflight Now Member. If everyone who enjoys our website helps fund it, we can expand and improve our coverage further.
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!