The Rosetta spacecraft was launched by the European Space Agency in March of 2004, blasting off from the French Guiana while being attached to an Ariane 5 rocket. After it spent over 10 years alone in space, the spacecraft finally rendezvoused with its purpose – the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P/C-G) Comet – in November of 2014.
After another 2 years have passed, the space probe remained in the orbit of Comet 67P while it accumulated data from its interior, surface and environment which is made from gas and dust. Finally, on the 30th of September, 2016, Rosetta managed to get closer than ever to 67P/C-G’s surface and it ended its mission through a controlled impact onto the comet’s surface.
After this happened, scientists had to continue the mission which meant to process all the data which was collected by the spacecraft during its mission. Among it there were some awesome photographs which showed the surface of the comet. They were taken just after the spacecraft met with the comet.
On September 22nd, 2014, Rosetta found itself at 28.2 kilometers (or 17.5 miles) from the comet’s center, so the distance to the surface was about 26.2 km (16.3 mi). That’s when it took a photograph of a portion of the comet’s surface which was then processed by combining three images taken at different wavelengths by OSIRIS, Rosetta’s narrow-angle camera.
The significance of this image is increased by the fact that it shows the comet’s more prominent surface features. The center and left of the picture show Seth, a geological region on the larger lobe of the comet which showcases layered terraces. Then, you can see how this region transits over to the smoother Hapi region, strewn with boulders, forming the neck which connects the comet’s two lobes.
Patrick Supernaw is the lead editor for Great Lakes Ledger. Patrick has written for many publications including The Huffington Post and Vanity Fair. Patrick is based in Ottawa and covers issues affecting his city. In addition to his severe hockey addiction, Pat also enjoys kayaking and can often be found paddling the Rideau Canal. Contact Pat here