Beaming scientists all around, spectacular images on large TV screens, and the best - or at least most exciting - yet to come: such was the extraordinary scene at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, today as the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft reached its cometary destination.
After a journey of more than a decade, Rosetta has finally arrived at comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Confirmation of the successful rocket firing came at about 9:30 UTC via a webcast from ESA's Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany.
It's just two days now until Rosetta arrives in its initial 100-kilometer "orbit" of comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and the latest view from Rosetta's NavCam is fascinating. Circular features on the comet remind me of Tempel 1 as seen by Deep Impact and Stardust.
A shift in position has brought shadows into view from Rosetta, outlining scarps and ridges on Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Rosetta's view of the comet is getting better and better. Today they released a new image from the high-resolution OSIRIS camera, and it's a very fresh one, taken only two days ago. Distinct features are coming into view. And it's finally detailed enough for me to compare it to the five other comets we've visited in the past.
A journey of nearly a decade is almost over. Rosetta is making its final approach to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and the comet's strange shape is beginning to come into focus. As of today, the spacecraft is only 2000 kilometers away from the comet, and 8 days away from arrival.
I could not wait to post these amazing new images of comet Churymov-Gerasimenko from Rosetta. The nucleus of the comet is clearly a contact binary -- two smaller (and unequally sized object) in close contact.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/06/19 10:42 CDT
Rosetta has now completed its three largest rendezvous burns as it approaches ever closer to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Beginning on July 2, Rosetta will now conduct weekly burns, through August 6. Meanwhile, the cometary activity of April and May has quieted again, leaving the comet looking smaller than it did before.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/05/27 07:13 CDT
Today I received an email notification of new public releases of some image data sets. I always love seeing new public space image data, but this notification was bittersweet: it included the first public release of the very last image data returned to Earth by Deep Impact, of a distant comet ISON.
A new meteor shower, the Camelopardalids, will be peaking Friday night/Saturday morning (May 23/24). Especially if you are in North America, you are well positioned to see what may (or may not) be a spectacular show. In either case, scientists will learn about a comet’s history, and you can have a fun night looking at the sky.
Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/04/18 06:42 CDT
Explore the worlds beyond Neptune including Pluto, Kuiper Belt Objects and comets in this video of class 10 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.
The Mars Express team showcases some of the best viewing opportunities of Mars in 2014, including how to spot Comet Siding Spring when it flies past Mars this October.
Posted by ESA Mars Express Team on 2014/03/31 05:46 CDT
Hubble has taken some great new images of our 'friend,' Comet Siding Spring, due to pass by Mars at less than 136,000 km on October 19 – less than half the distance between Earth and our moon.
Rosetta has turned on its cameras and sighted its comet for the first time since waking from hibernation. Next activity: waking the Philae lander.
Posted by ESA Mars Express Team on 2014/03/24 03:44 CDT
In the latest update on how the Mars Express flight control team is planning to deal with Comet Siding Spring is all about attitude -- and hiding behind the biggest guy in the fight.
In the quest to track Comet Siding Spring, the Mars Express team tells us how computing the orbit of a comet isn't as straightforward as science fiction would have us believe.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/10 02:18 CDT
Rosetta's comet target, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, has emerged from behind the Sun as seen from Earth, and the Very Large Telescope has photographed it. The new images show that cometary activity has already begun as Rosetta approaches for its August rendezvous.