Rosetta’s Closing In

esa_rosetta_osirisnac_130806_aThis close up image focused on a smooth region on the “base” of the “body” section of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was taken by Rosetta’s Onboard Scientific Imaging System (OSIRIS) on 6 August, 2014. The picture shows a range of features, including boulders, craters and steep cliffs. It was taken from a distance of 130 km. The resolution is about 2.5 m/pixel.

Image Credit: ESA

Rosetta’s Rendezvous

If all goes well, by the time this post goes up, the Rosetta spacecraft will have begun it’s rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko early this morning. Rosetta will carry out a complex series of maneuvers to reduce bring the spacecraft to within about 100 km of the comet and then down to 25 to 30 km. The spacecraft will begin mapping the comet from that distance to find a landing site for the mission’s Philae lander. In November, Rosetta will come to within just 2.5 km of the comet’s nucleus to deploy the lander. The objects in the animation is not to scale; Rosetta’s solar arrays span 32 m, and the comet is approximately 4 km wide.

Video Credit: ESA

Not What We Expected

Rosetta_animatedThis animated sequence combines 36 interpolated images of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, each separated by 20 minutes. This comet is the destination for the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission. As the spacecraft is slowly approaching the comet, it’s proving to be full of surprises. These images obtained by OSIRIS, the onboard scientific imaging system, confirm the nucleus’s peculiar shape hinted at in earlier pictures. The comet’s nucleus consists of two distinctly separated parts. Comet 67P is very different from other comets spacecraft have encountered before.