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