At 5:19 a.m. Central time this morning, the fabulously successful Rosetta mission to Comet 67P/C-G came to an end. At that time, European mission control heard the last signal from the spacecraft before it crashed down on the comet’s surface. Now settled in for a long, long nap — one that will last an eternity — Rosetta will orbit the sun piggybacked on a 2.5-mile-wide hunk of dirty ice.
After a 10-year-long journey to the comet, Rosetta began orbiting the comet in early August 2014. Thanks to the steady stream of data and photos from the probe’s cameras and instruments along with the brief but important contribution from Philae lander, we know so much more about this comet and comets in general than ever before. Rosetta revealed the detailed composition of the comet’s dust, what gases make up its temporary atmosphere called the ‘coma’ and the origins of the geyser-like jets that blast from 67P/C-G’s surface.
All the photos here were taken during the spacecraft’s free fall to the comet’s surface beginning last night and ending this morning. Enjoy the trip down!
One final observing alert. Don’t forget to keep watch once again for the aurora borealis. Wednesday night gave a nice show, but last night pooped out. Tonight, minor storms are expected during the early evening hours.