Thursday, November 13, 2014

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko During Philae's Descent

This image of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was acquired by the Philae lander of the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission during Philae's descent toward the comet on November 12, 2014. Philae's ROLIS (ROsetta Lander Imaging System) took the image at 14:38:41 UTC (6:38:41 a.m., PST) at a distance of approximately two miles (three kilometers) from the surface. The landing site is imaged with a resolution of about 10 feet (three meters) per pixel.

The ROLIS instrument is a down-looking imager that acquires images during the descent and doubles as a multi-spectral close-up camera after the landing. The aim of the ROLIS experiment is to study the texture and microstructure of the comet's surface. It was developed by the German Aerospace Center's Institute of Planetary Research, Berlin.

The lander separated from the orbiter at 09:03 UTC (1:03 a.m. PST) for touch down on comet 67P seven hours later.

Rosetta and Philae had been riding through space together for more than 10 years. Philae is the first probe to achieve a soft landing on a comet, and Rosetta is the first to rendezvous with a comet and follow it around the sun. The information collected by Philae at one location on the surface will complement that collected by the Rosetta orbiter for the entire comet.

Image credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/DLR

Note: This is the major story for today, and just the ESA and NASA by themselves have numerous news stories, photos and videos available. For more information, see:
* How to Land on a Comet
* PIA18871: Rosetta Mission Selfie at 10 Miles
* PIA18872: Rosetta Mission Selfie at 30 Miles
* PIA18873: Farewell, Philae
* PIA18870: Farewell Shot of Rosetta by Philae Lander
* European Spacecraft Set to Harpoon a Comet Today
* Separation
* Confirmation of Separation of the Philae Lander from Rosetta
* Separation Signal Confirmed
* Farewell Rosetta
* Farewell Philae - Narrow-Angle View (1)
* Farewell Philae - Narrow-Angle View (2)
* Farewell Philae - Wide-Angle View
* Philae Descending to the Comet – Wide-Angle View
* Lander Departure
* ROLIS Descent Image
* Highlights: Rosetta Mission Comet Landing Up to Lander Separation (Video)
* Rosetta and Philae Go for Separation
* Rosetta and Philae Separation Confirmed
* Confirmation of Separation of the Philae Lander from Rosetta
* Touchdown! Rosetta's Philae Probe Lands on Comet

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