Image: Rosetta's comet looms

August 28, 2014 by Elizabeth Howell, Universe Today
The Rosetta navigation camera sent back this image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Aug. 23, showing about a quarter of the four-kilometer (2.5-mile) comet. This image was acquired from a distance of 61 kilometers (38 miles). Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

Wow! Rosetta is getting ever-closer to its target comet by the day. This navigation camera shot from Aug. 23 shows that the spacecraft is so close to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko that it's difficult to fit the entire 2.5-mile (four-kilometer) comet in a single frame.

As the European Space Agency explained, the way that Rosetta is taking pictures is changing—and that's not only because the is searching for a safe touchdown site for its lander, Philae.

"Until now, each NAVCAM image has covered the whole comet in one shot, but now that Rosetta is about 50 km [31 miles] from the comet, the nucleus is close to overfilling the NAVCAM field, and will do as we get even closer," ESA stated.

"As a result, on Saturday [Aug. 23] we started taking NAVCAM image sequences as small 2 x 2 rasters, such that roughly one quarter of the comet is seen in the corner of each of the four images, rather than all in just one shot."

ESA also noted there is a delay of about 20 minutes between the first and last images in the sequence, during which time both the comet and Rosetta are moving. This changes how the shadows and other things on the comet appear. ESA hasn't yet made any software to create composite images, because it's not needed for navigation (the primary reason the camera is there.)

Explore further: Image: Rosetta's Philae lander snaps a selfie

Related Stories

Image: Rosetta's Philae lander snaps a selfie

April 16, 2014

Philae is awake… and taking pictures! This image, acquired last night with the lander's CIVA (Comet nucleus Infrared and Visible Analyzer) instrument, shows the left and right solar panels of ESA's well-traveled Rosetta ...

Image: Rosetta spies comet surface variations

August 18, 2014

A new image of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko shows the diversity of surface structures on the comet's nucleus. It was taken by the Rosetta spacecraft's OSIRIS narrow-angle camera on August 7, 2014. At the time, the spacecraft ...

Recommended for you

35 years on, Voyager's legacy continues at Saturn

August 25, 2016

Saturn, with its alluring rings and numerous moons, has long fascinated stargazers and scientists. After an initial flyby of Pioneer 11 in 1979, humanity got a second, much closer look at this complex planetary system in ...

Rocky planet found orbiting habitable zone of nearest star

August 24, 2016

An international team of astronomers including Carnegie's Paul Butler has found clear evidence of a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our Solar System. The new world, designated Proxima b, orbits its cool ...

WISE, Fermi missions reveal a surprising blazar connection

August 24, 2016

Astronomers studying distant galaxies powered by monster black holes have uncovered an unexpected link between two very different wavelengths of the light they emit, the mid-infrared and gamma rays. The discovery, which was ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

OZGuy
5 / 5 (1) Aug 29, 2014
Awesome!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.