A few days ago, the European Space Agency released a new image of the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The image is just one of a larger collection of photographs taken two years ago at the completion of the Rosetta mission.
The mission, which launched in 2004, saw the Rosetta space probe land on the comet ten years and eight months after departure. It was the first mission in history where a space probe rendezvoused with a comet, and cost close to 1.4 billion euros.
The probe joined the comet on its orbit of the sun, and deployed a lander module named “Philae’ to its surface.
The image is a rare sight, showing a unique view of the comet after the probe’s landing. This view was made possibly by combining three separate images taken by Rosetta’s narrow-angle camera.
The image, that shows the barren, solitude of the landscape of comet as it hurtles through space, is eerily beautiful.
The Rosetta mission concluded with a controlled impact of the probe onto the comet’s surface. After more than two years of investigation, it was an appropriate (and simple) way to end the probe’s assignment.
It was also a helluva way to destroy the Philae lander, which cost around $AUD 360 million.
Here are some other incredible images that the probe took of other areas around comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. I find the photos particularly striking due to the way the starkness of space is juxtaposed against the comet’s craggy terrain.
ESA also released an adorable animated series titled The Amazing Adventures of Rosetta and Philae, which is definitely worth the watch!
[All photo credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA]