Philae Snaps Photo Of Rosetta Orbiting Comet / New Mosaic May Show Ice Particles

The Philae lander, stowed aboard Rosetta, took this photo of the side of the mothership and one of its 46-foot (14-m) long solar arrays with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in the background. Two images with different exposure times were combined to capture the bright, 2.5-mile-wide comet and dimmer hardware. Click to enlarge. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

Seeing this makes me feel like I’m in orbit. What a nice perspective with the comet in the frame. It was taken by the Comet Infrared and Visible Analyzer (CIVA) on September 7th and shows part of the spacecraft and one of its solar arrays from a distance of about 31 miles (50 km) from the comet.

CIVA is several instruments in one. CIVA-P consists of seven cameras – five regular cameras and one dual-instrument stereo camera – that will take a 360º panorama of the landing site once it’s safely on the surface of the comet. A section of the panorama will be shot in stereo.  Landing is scheduled for November 11th.

Artist’s impression of Rosetta’s lander Philae (front view) on the surface of the comet. Philae will be deployed to 67P/C-G in November where it will make in situ observations of the comet surface, including drilling 9 inches (23 cm) into the surface to gather a sample for analysis in its on board laboratory. Copyright: ESA/ATG medialab

CIVA-M has a miniaturized visible light microscope and a coupled infrared spectrometer (an instrument used to measure light in the infrared part of the spectrum) that will be used to study a drilled sample from the comet’s crust. CIVA-M is designed to identify organic materials in the soil.

Four-image navigation camera mosaic of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, using photos taken on September 10 when Rosetta was just 17.3 miles from the comet. Click for a giant version. Copyright: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

Stephan Ulamec, Philae lander manager, will announce the primary and backup landing sites for the washing-machine-sized probe at a presentation tomorrow morning at ESA Headquarters in Paris. The challenges and scientific expectations of the sites will be presented and shared with the media. We’ll have photos and the latest information here when it arrives.

In this cropped version, a bright, reflective spot is visible. It doesn’t show in images taken before this one (although the shadow does, so it’s unrelated). It’s either a camera artifact or something reflective like a fleck of ice or dust that passed by in the foreground. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

In the meantime, have fun exploring the huge mosaic of 67P/C-G snapped from just 17.3 miles (27.8 km) away. In the cropped closeup, there’s an interesting bright spot that may either be an artifact or a something reflective (ice?) in the foreground. Take a look at the image below, which I’ve lightened up to show the comet’s neck in reflected sunlight and a speckling of either “noise” from cosmic ray hits or a mix of noise and reflections from bright ice and dust particles released by the comet.

In this lightened up view of the comet, we can the neck area dimly illuminated by sunlight reflecting from the comet’s larger lobe. Small streaks and specks – cosmic ray hits, detector noise or dust and ice or some combination – are visible too. I’ve circled a few of the larger ones. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

8 Responses

  1. Bruce Brovold

    Hello Astrobob.
    As you know I am from Earth, and do not know much about this comet. A little humor…I did not see the size of this comet. You point out the neck, and to me it looks like two round objects are connected by the neck. Can you let us know how long and wide the comet is, and its distance from Earth?
    Thanks to you I am learning so much about interesting objects in space. Thank you for sharing…
    Bruce
    Fargo…

    1. astrobob

      Hi Bruce,
      Hah! Funny thing. I had the size in the original but deleted by accident when editing. It’s in there now – from end to end the comet is 2.5 miles (4 km). Thanks for asking. 67P is 270 million miles from Earth today.

  2. caralex

    Bob, in the caption to the image of the anomalous object, you mention that the it wasn’t in the previous image, but the shadow was. Can you link to the previous image? I can’t find one that’s oriented in the same way.
    Thanks.

        1. astrobob

          Carol,
          I was referring to ESA’s comments about earlier photos. Pity they didn’t provide them so I could package them. The only photo I could get my hands on was the one.

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