IMAGES: Spacecraft Touches Down On Comet

By  //  November 12, 2014

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first time in history that a spacecraft has made a soft landing on a comet

ABOVE LIVESTREAM: Early Wednesday morning, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft deployed its comet lander, “Philae.” At 11:03 a.m. EST, ESA confirmed that signals were received from Philae on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

It is the first time in history that a spacecraft has made a soft landing on a comet. Rosetta is an international mission led by the ESA, with instruments provided by its member states, and additional support and instruments provided by NASA. 

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he Philae lander of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission took this self-portrait of the spacecraft on Oct. 7, 2014, at a distance of 10 miles (16 kilometers) from comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. The image, taken with Philae’s CIVA camera, captures the side of the Rosetta spacecraft and one of Rosetta’s 46-foot-long (14-meter-long) solar wings, with the comet in the background. Two images with different exposure times were combined to bring out the faint details in this very high contrast situation. The comet’s active “neck” region is clearly visible, with streams of dust and gas extending away from the surface. The lander separated from the orbiter at 09:03 UTC (1:03 a.m. PST) on Nov. 12, 2014, for a planned touch down on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko seven hours later. Rosetta and Philae had been riding through space together for more than 10 years. While Philae is set to become the first probe to land on a comet, Rosetta is already 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. Rosetta is a European Space Agency mission with contributions from its member states and NASA. Rosetta’s Philae lander is provided by a consortium led by the German Aerospace Center, Cologne; Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Gottingen; French National Space Agency, Paris; and the Italian Space Agency, Rome. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the U.S. participation in the Rosetta mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Rosetta carries three NASA instruments in its 21-instrument payload. For more information on the U.S. instruments aboard Rosetta, visit: http://rosetta.jpl.nasa.gov . For more information about Rosetta, visit http://www.esa.int/rosetta . (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA)

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The Philae lander of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission took this self-portrait of the spacecraft on Sept. 7, 2014, at a distance of about 30 miles (50 kilometers) from comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. The image, taken with Philae’s CIVA camera, captures the side of the Rosetta spacecraft and one of Rosetta’s 46-foot-long (14-meter-long) solar wings, with the comet in the background. Two images with different exposure times were combined to bring out the faint details in this very high contrast situation. The lander separated from the orbiter at 09:03 UTC (1:03 a.m. PST) on Nov. 12, 2014, for a planned touch down on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko seven hours later. Rosetta and Philae had been riding through space together for more than 10 years. While Philae is set to become the first probe to land on a comet, Rosetta is already 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. Rosetta is a European Space Agency mission with contributions from its member states and NASA. Rosetta’s Philae lander is provided by a consortium led by the German Aerospace Center, Cologne; Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Gottingen; French National Space Agency, Paris; and the Italian Space Agency, Rome. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the U.S. participation in the Rosetta mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Rosetta carries three NASA instruments in its 21-instrument payload. For more information on the U.S. instruments aboard Rosetta, visit: http://rosetta.jpl.nasa.gov . For more information about Rosetta, visit http://www.esa.int/rosetta . Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

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This image was taken by the Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System, Rosetta’s main onboard scientific imaging system, on Sept. 10, 2014. Image Credit: Image credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/ INTA/UPM/DASP

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Artist’s impression of the ‘singing comet’ 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NavCam)

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A jagged horizon of the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko appears in this image taken by the navigation camera on the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft during the second half of October 2014. The image was taken from a distance of less than 6 miles (10 kilometers) from the surface. (Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM)

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The location of the primary landing site (Site J) for European Space Agency’s Rosetta lander, Philae, is highlighted in this image. Site J is located on the head of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM

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Early Wednesday morning, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft deployed its comet lander, “Philae.” At 11:03 a.m. EST, ESA confirmed that signals were received from Philae on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

This image of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, from Rosetta's OSIRIS scientific imaging system, shows two saturation levels. In the left image darkness hides the right half; the right image shows some surface structures. Image was taken 10/30/14 from about 18.6 miles (30 kilometers) away. Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team

This image of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, from Rosetta’s OSIRIS scientific imaging system, shows two saturation levels. In the left image darkness hides the right half; the right image shows some surface structures. Image was taken 10/30/14 from about 18.6 miles (30 kilometers) away.
Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team


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