Rosetta Update: Spacecraft Takes 'Selfie' by Comet as Team Determines Landing Site

From the European Space Agency (ESA): "Using the CIVA camera on Rosetta’s Philae lander, the spacecraft have snapped a ‘selfie’ at comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko." Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

From the European Space Agency (ESA): “Using the CIVA camera on Rosetta’s Philae lander, the spacecraft have snapped a ‘selfie’ at comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.” Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

You may have taken a selfie before, but not one quite as cool as this: This week in Rosetta news, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) comet-orbiting spacecraft took an incredible “selfie” of sorts at comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

ESA released an image taken Sunday, Sept. 7, at a distance of approximately 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the comet. The viewer can observe one of Rosetta’s silvery solar wings, with the distinctive double-lobed comet lurking in the background. ESA stated that this image was the result of combining “two images with different exposure times … to bring out the faint details in this very high contrast situation.” More recent images from Rosetta via ESA are featured at the end of this update.

Rosetta’s rendezvous on Aug. 6 and the preceding events during this year (its January “wakeup” and initial approach to the comet) have captured space watchers’ imaginations all over the world. In addition to the images supplied by the space agency, members of the public have been involved in image processing. As a result, further enhanced views of the comet have been revealed.

One blogger (Cumbrian Sky, @mars_stu on Twitter) has offered close-ups of the comet’s surface. In a post from Tuesday, Sept. 9, he wrote of one image, ” … [P]anning around the image, I saw that other parts of it, where the camera was seeing features ‘on the horizon’ of the comet at an oblique angle, might possibly offer us  our first real view of a comet’s surface from the point of view of someone standing ON it, or at least someone flying low over its surface. So I set about cropping it to isolate those areas and then ‘work’ on them, sharpening and enhancing them to bring out the more subtle features in the landscape.” Here are some of his enhanced views of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko:

Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA/@Mars_Stu via Twitter for editing

Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA/@Mars_Stu via Twitter for editing

Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA/@Mars_Stu via Twitter for editing

Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA/@Mars_Stu via Twitter for editing

Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA/@Mars_Stu via Twitter for editing

Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA/@Mars_Stu via Twitter for editing

In November, we may see more images similar to these, as the spacecraft’s lander will make its historic landing on the comet. As Rosetta continues to collect data and fascinating images, the Rosetta team continues to be hard at work determining a landing site for Philae, the spacecraft’s lander. On Aug. 25, the team announced five candidate locations, narrowed down from an initial pool of 10. A video released by ESA on Wednesday, Sept. 10, discusses each landing location candidate:

Video from ESA’s YouTube channel

On Monday, Sept. 15, the team will announce the top location and its backup at a press conference slated to take place at ESA Headquarters in Paris, France; the conference will take place at 0900 GMT (5:00 a.m. EST). If you wish to view it live, visit ESA’s website. In October, Europe’s space agency will determine the actual November landing date (at this time, tentatively Nov. 11).

From ESA: "Four-image montage comprising images taken by Rosetta's navigation camera on 7 September from a distance of 51 km from comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The comet nucleus is about 4 km across." Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

From ESA: “Four-image montage comprising images taken by Rosetta’s navigation camera on 7 September from a distance of 51 km from comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The comet nucleus is about 4 km across.” Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

From ESA: "Four image NAVCAM mosaic of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, using images taken on 10 September when Rosetta was 27.8 km from the comet." Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

From ESA: “Four image NAVCAM mosaic of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, using images taken on 10 September when Rosetta was 27.8 km from the comet.” Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

First Mars selfie? From ESA, Rosetta's "Throwback Thursday" image: "On 25 February 2007 at 02:15 GMT, Rosetta passed just 250 km from the surface of Mars. Rosetta’s Philae lander took this image 4 minutes before closest approach, at a distance of 1000 km. It captures one of Rosetta’s 14 m-long solar wings, set against the northern hemisphere of Mars, where details in the Mawrth Vallis region can be seen." This image was originally in black and white, and has been enhanced. Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

First Mars selfie? From ESA, Rosetta’s “Throwback Thursday” image: “On 25 February 2007 at 02:15 GMT, Rosetta passed just 250 km from the surface of Mars. Rosetta’s Philae lander took this image 4 minutes before closest approach, at a distance of 1000 km. It captures one of Rosetta’s 14 m-long solar wings, set against the northern hemisphere of Mars, where details in the Mawrth Vallis region can be seen.” This image was originally in black and white, and has been enhanced. Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

Stay tuned to AmericaSpace as we continue to provide updates about Rosetta’s mission.

 

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2 comments to Rosetta Update: Spacecraft Takes ‘Selfie’ by Comet Team Determines Landing Site

  • Blueoyster57

    Can we please drop the word “selfie”……it is beyond stupid.

  • The “selfie” and three images below it are an incredible testament to the technological capabilities we have developed since the dawn of the Space Age, October 4, 1957. As someone old enough to appreciate the very beginning, I am astounded and I marvel at what will follow. We must continue such exploration if, for no other reason, than to inspire a new generation of scientists, engineers and thinkers who will lead us to yet untold discoveries.