Rosetta in orbit, shoots incredible close-up views of comet

Boulders, cliffs, craters and smooth plains stand out in striking detail in this photo taken from only 81 miles (137 km) away. All photos credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

I know I’ve said this before, but WOW! I’ll step out of the way so you can enjoy these spectacular photos taken today when the Rosetta spacecraft arrived at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Congratulations to all those at the European Space Agency (ESA) for a fantastic job!

Full view of the comet’s nucleus shows amazing details. Come November, ESA will land the small probe Philae on the comet.

Another full view of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Here the comet is overexposed to capture vaporizing ice and gases jetting away from the nucleus.

An ‘in your face’ close-up taken from 75 miles (120 km) away. Click photo to watch a 101-image animation of the comet during Rosetta’s approach.

Rosetta Mission main control room this morning August 6. Credit: S. Bierwald

For updates and more photos, click HERE. For live streaming reports, click HERE.

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About astrobob

My name is Bob King and I work at the Duluth News Tribune in Duluth, Minn. as a photographer and photo editor. I'm also an amateur astronomer and have been keen on the sky since age 11. My modest credentials include membership in the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) where I'm a regular contributor, International Meteorite Collectors Assn. and Arrowhead Astronomical Society. I also teach community education astronomy classes at our local planetarium.

16 thoughts on “Rosetta in orbit, shoots incredible close-up views of comet

  1. Amazing, and what a privilege we have to see a comet like this. It’s simpeler than what people in ancient times may have thought it was, but it’s certainly not an anti-climax. And this question may be a little dumb, but are these black and white photos, or is this how it really looks like, color wise?

  2. Wow – great pictures and what a great achievement! I hope the landing goes as well as the rest of the mission has thus far.

    Bob, where do you reckon would be the best place to land the probe – presumably not on a part where it would get blown off as the comet vapourises. I’m no expert on comets but that thing looks as though it’ll split into two, one day.

    You can see there are cratered areas and “maria”, like on the moon – though I suppose you would call these “stagnis”!

    • Hi Paul,
      I’m going to do something on landing sites but I suspect they’d want to land on someplace relatively smooth but not covered by deep layers of dust.

    • Carol,
      The comet does look like frozen mud but the latest results indicate that at least the surface appears to be free of volatile materials like ice. Dust might also play a role in the smooth areas. For instance, the smooth ‘waist’ of Comet Hartley 2 appears to be dust and other comet material settling back on the surface. I’ll be digging around to see what I can turn up and then share it here as always.

  3. Wow !!! Indeed !

    NOTE: twitter images (like the second image above) are often available in a larger size than the links directly reference …

    Example :

    https://twitter.com/ESA_Rosetta/status/496954420266270720/photo/1

    If you open the image via Right-Click options then you will see …

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BuWJaVSIcAAVgZ9.jpg

    BUT … If you add ‘:large’ to the end of the URL and reload you will see …

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BuWJaVSIcAAVgZ9.jpg:large

    ;-)

    • Hi Roy,
      Thanks for the other option. I usually click once on the Twitter link and then on the photo to get the larger version. Your method’s a bit cleaner.

  4. The origin of the circular craters at the surface of 67P C-G.?
    If we assume that all circular craters at the surface of comet 67P are originated by two aligned gravitating new physics fermion repelling micro black holes (BH), then we may get an impression of the inner BH structure of the comet responsible for the shape.
    I assume that the basic dumbbell form of the comet is realized by two larger BHs and lots secondary BHs of smaller different sizes, which are concentrated in the body of the ducky located around the central main BH.

    • Hi Leo,
      Black holes aren’t necessary to explain impact cratering which is ubiquitous throughout the solar system on bodies of every size and composition. Objects hitting other objects explains it well without invoking exotic physics and black holes. Micro black holes are theoretical, and none have been found within the solar system.

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