Talk about out of this world photography!
A recent picture of the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet has been taken by the European Space Agency’s Rosetta orbiter. The magnificent photo was captured at about 200 miles behind the comet, downstream from the vapor and dust trail released by the comet. The Rosetta orbiter was on its outbound tour that covered about 600 miles of space from and back to the comet.
ETA’s orbiter got quite the bit of publicity last year, after it landed the Philae spacecraft on the face of this comet. However, the Philae lander failed in fulfilling the task assigned to it by the scientists as its batteries couldn’t be changed. But the Rosetta still managed to do an awesome thing by capturing this beautiful snap of the comet.
Generally, such comets are made of ice, and emit trails of gas and dust. Therefore, comets like 67P are quite thrilling for researchers as they might have been created at the very start of our solar system’s evolution. Meaning, the icy core of such a comet would contain molecules from the very beginning of time, and researching them would give us insight of what matter existed back when the planets were first formed. The process of gathering such info can be achieved by either landing a spacecraft on the comet, such as the Philae lander, or studying its sublimation, exactly like what the Rosetta has been doing.
The ESA declared that later on this year in September, they will be attempting yet another landing on the comet. They will work endlessly to ensure a gentle touchdown, so that the data can return to Earth. However, they are sure the Rosetta will be damaged during its second landing, and would there after lose contact with Earth.
Well, we can only hope the Rosetta will spend her last few months happily snapping away more beautiful photos of the comet. Because, seriously, this one is just ethereal!