Category Archives: Rosetta

Philae Found!


Philae has been found! Click the image above to see an annotated version.

The find is very timely, on 30 September 2016, Rosetta will make the final rendezvous with the comet.

From ESA:
Close-up of the Philae lander, imaged by Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera on 2 September 2016 from a distance of 2.7 km. The image scale is about 5 cm/pixel. Philae’s 1 m-wide body and two of its three legs can be seen extended from the body. The images also provide proof of Philae’s orientation.

The image is a zoom from a wider-scene, and has been interpolated.

More information: Philae found!


The Orbits of Rosetta

ESA gives us this visualization of Rosetta’s journey. The video gives us a pretty good sense of the journey and how exacting the planning was and what it will be in the future, although the final bits of the journey were not completely finalized until after this visualization was made.

The trajectory shown in this animation is created from real data, but the comet rotation is not. An arrow indicates the direction to the Sun as the camera viewpoint changes during the animation. — ESA

I am always am amazed how ESA can make the very difficult look easy.


Sleep Little Philae

The Philae lander on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko will likely be spending eternity in silence. “The chances for Philae to contact our team at our lander control centre are unfortunately getting close to zero,” says Stephan Ulamec, Philae project manager at the German Aerospace Center, DLR. “We are not sending commands any more and it would be very surprising if we were to receive a signal again.”

If things go as planned, Rosetta may be joining Philae when later this year when the spacecraft’s propellant runs low a landing attempt is made. This (hopefully) won’t be a large impacting event, rather a gentle touchdown and Rosetta will continue to collect and transmit data until the last. Might it even work from the surface for a short time? Probably not, but who knows.


Exploring Imhotep


Be sure to check out the “comet viewer tool” linked below.


This beautiful landscape feels within arm’s reach in this stunning view across the Imhotep region on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

The view was captured by Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera on 17 January 2016, from a distance of 86.8 km. Measuring 3.2 km across, it captures one of the most geologically diverse areas of the comet.

Imhotep is perhaps most easily identified by the broad smooth area that occupies the centre-right portion of this view. This smooth dusty terrain, which covers about 0.8 sq km, is etched with curvilinear features stretching hundreds of metres and which have been found to change in appearance over time.

Many large boulders are also seen scattered within the smooth terrain, including the boulder Cheops in the foreground. Smaller but more numerous boulders are associated with exposed cliff faces and are most likely the product of erosion. In some debris falls, detailed analysis has revealed the presence of water ice.

Particularly eye-catching is the distinctive layered and fractured material to the left of centre in the background. Similar patterns are also seen in the exposed cliff-like faces towards the right of the scene too, where Imhotep transitions into the Khepry region.

Layers like this are seen in various locations on the comet and scientists are trying to understand how they might be related to the comet’s formation and/or evolution.

Just in front of the prominent left-hand stack of layers a number of small round features can be found. They have a well-defined rim with a smooth interior and appear slightly raised from the surrounding material. One explanation for their appearance is that they are ancient sites of active regions covered by dust and are now being revealed by varying erosion of the overlying layers.

Further in the foreground again and a relatively smooth ‘pathway’ appears to lead towards a more consolidated summit. To the left of this path is the Ash region, while the sheer apex at the top left of the view marks the boundary with Apis.

Use the comet viewer tool to aid navigation around the comet’s regions.

This image was first published on the OSIRIS image of the day website on 21 January 2016.


Comet in 3D


A great 3D image from the Rosetta spacecraft.

From ESA:

A 3D anaglyph view of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko based on two images from Rosetta’s OSIRIS camera on 12 August 2015, capturing a spectacular jet. The two images are separated by 2 minutes 28 seconds, which corresponds to a stereo angle of 1.2º. The image scale is 3.9 m per pixel. In this orientation the Babi and Aker regions are visible on the large lobe to the left, while Ma’at and the circular Hatmehit depression are seen on the small lobe to the right. Diffuse dust emission and other jets are visible all around the nucleus.

The image is best enjoyed with red–blue/green 3D anaglyph glasses.

Check out the the blog: Comet jet in 3D

Rosetta and the Comet

Rosetta has been returning some stunning images of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko that ESA is putting up on the Rosetta Blog.


This one shows 67P/G-C from a distance of 415 km / 258 miles show nice outgassing.  We are looking at the southern hemisphere some of which has been in darkness for five and a half years, just becoming visible in May.

Image: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0



Rosetta’s Moment in the Sun

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and its human-made-moon called Rosetta has now passed its closest distance to the Sun in this orbit (perihelion) and is now spending several weeks at peak activity. The activity means the flight operations team must be prepared to react to fast jets of dust and gas erupting from the comet or stray boulders ejected from its surface.

Video from ESA