Yes, Rosetta, We Are There! ESA’s Spacecraft Arrives at Comet 64P/C-G and Returns Amazing Images

OSIRIS image of the surface of comet 64P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from 130 km (ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

OSIRIS image of the surface of comet 64P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from 130 km (ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

A comparison of images from OSIRIS on Aug. 3 and Aug. 6

A comparison of images from OSIRIS on Aug. 3 and Aug. 6

We don’t have to keep asking “Rosetta are we there yet?” anymore – we’re there! This morning, August 6 2014, Rosetta made its arrival at the ~4-km-wide comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and soon sent back some incredible pictures of its surface taken with its OSIRIS science imager. The one above was acquired at a distance of 130 km (80 miles) and shows some very rugged terrain and large boulders, and but some rather smooth, flat regions too. (The same area had been imaged a few days earlier – see at right –  but the closer distance obviously allows for much more detail.) Congratulations to ESA and Rosetta for becoming the first mission to rendezvous with a comet! Now the real science can begin!

“Europe’s Rosetta is now the first spacecraft in history to rendezvous with a comet, a major highlight in exploring our origins,” said Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA’s Director General. “Discoveries can start.”

“After ten years, five months and four days traveling towards our destination, looping around the Sun five times and clocking up 6.4 billion kilometers, we are delighted to announce finally ‘we are here.’

Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA’s Director General

Here’s an enlarged look at the boulders in the top image. The largest one is about 38 meters across!

A close-up of boulders on 67P/C-G imaged by OSIRIS from 130 km. The largest one is about 38 meters (125 feet) wide. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA. Edited by J. Major.

A close-up of boulders on 67P/C-G imaged by OSIRIS from 130 km. The largest one is about 38 meters (125 feet) wide. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA. Edited by J. Major.

After all this time it’s incredible to be seeing such detail of the surface of a comet, 404.5 million km away. And as Rosetta continues to establish a tighter and tighter orbit around 67P/C-G, eventually coming within 30 km (18 miles) of it, the images and data are only going to get better.

Read more: Get Ready for Rosetta’s Rendezvous With a Comet

The image below, showing the bright “neck” of the comet, was taken with OSIRIS from even closer – about 120 km (75 miles). That’s some crazy terrain, probably not a good place for Philae to land!

Close-up detail of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken Aug. 6 from 120 km. (ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

Close-up detail of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken Aug. 6 from 120 km. (ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

“Over the next few months, in addition to characterising the comet nucleus and setting the bar for the rest of the mission, we will begin final preparations for another space history first: landing on a comet,” said Matt Taylor, ESA’s Rosetta project scientist.

Learn more about Rosetta’s next steps here.

“We have come an extraordinarily long way since the mission concept was first discussed in the late 1970s and approved in 1993, and now we are ready to open a treasure chest of scientific discovery that is destined to rewrite the textbooks on comets for even more decades to come.”

–  Alvaro Giménez, ESA’s Director of Science and Robotic Exploration

Animation of 101 NAVCAM images acquired as Rosetta approached 67P from Aug. 1 to Aug. 6, 2014. (ESA/Rosetta/Navcam)

Animation of 101 NAVCAM images acquired as Rosetta approached 67P from Aug. 1 to Aug. 6, 2014. (ESA/Rosetta/Navcam)

Follow along with the Rosetta mission here.

Source: ESA

About these ads

About JPMajor

Desktop astronomer, graphic designer and space news nut.

Posted on August 6, 2014, in Comets and Asteroids and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Bravo to Rosetta and to the engineers of the ESA who allowed this success : send into orbit around a comet.
    The Americans have the NASA we here in Europe we have the ESA. And openly we have nothing to envy them ;-)

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 15,457 other followers

%d bloggers like this: