Stunning view of Rosetta skimming past Mars

Feb 26, 2007 byline
Stunning view of Rosetta skimming past Mars
Stunning image taken by the CIVA imaging instrument on Rosetta's Philae lander just 4 minutes before closest approach at a distance of some 1000 km from Mars. A portion of the spacecraft and one of its solar arrays are visible in nice detail. Beneath, an area close to the Syrtis region is visible on the planet’s disk. Credits: CIVA / Philae / ESA Rosetta

This stunning view, showing portions of the Rosetta spacecraft with Mars in the background, was taken by the Rosetta Lander Imaging System (CIVA) on board Rosetta’s Philae lander just four minutes before the spacecraft reached closest approach to the Red Planet earlier this morning.

While the Rosetta orbiter instruments were switched off as planned during several hours around closest approach, which occurred at 03:15 CET today, some of the lander instruments were operational and collected data from Mars.

This incredible CIVA image was taken about 1000 kilometres from the planet’s surface. A portion of the spacecraft and one of its solar arrays are visible in nice detail. Beneath, an area close to the Syrtis region is visible on the planet’s disk.

Philae lander in first autonomous operation

This is the first time that the Philae lander operated in a totally autonomous mode, completely relying on the power of its own batteries. This will be the case when the lander will have touched down on comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014 and will have to perform its scientific measurements independently from the Rosetta orbiter.

A sequence of observations from today's Mars close approach were run successfully, providing an important test for the science observations of the comet nucleus to come. In addition to CIVA, the ROMAP instrument was also switched on, collecting data about the magnetic environment of Mars. The data sets acquired by both instruments are unique, as the presented image summarises for CIVA.

The Philae lander still has still a long route ahead to ensure success for its highly challenging venture, which requires a safe landing on an unknown icy body, and performing a very complex programmed sequence of operations in a highly constrained environment.

A number of updates and validation of some systems and instruments are still required, which should be implemented during the upcoming cruise phase and the Earth swingby in November 2007.

Source: ESA

Explore further: Four rockets launched into northern lights to study turbulence

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Microsoft profit dips as revenue rises (Update)

9 hours ago

Microsoft on Monday reported that its quarterly profit dipped but revenue increased in a sign that it is adapting to lifestyles centered on mobile devices and cloud services.

Black hole chokes on a swallowed star

10 hours ago

A five-year analysis of an event captured by a tiny telescope at McDonald Observatory and followed up by telescopes on the ground and in space has led astronomers to believe they witnessed a giant black hole ...

Montana oil spill estimate lowered to 30,000 gallons

11 hours ago

Authorities have lowered their estimate of how much oil spilled from a broken pipeline beneath the Yellowstone River in eastern Montana, briefly contaminating the water supply of a city downstream.

Recommended for you

Cosmic puzzle settled: Comets give us shooting stars

15 hours ago

Suspicions that shooting stars come from comet dust, transformed into fiery streaks as they hit Earth's atmosphere, have been bolstered by Europe's Rosetta space mission, scientists reported Monday.

Mysteries in Nili Fossae

18 hours ago

These new images from the high-resolution stereo camera on ESA's Mars Express show Nili Fossae, one of the most enticing regions on Mars. This 'graben system' lies northeast of the volcanic region of Syrtis ...

User comments : 0

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.