A picture of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

Photo Gallery: Step Right Up And Tour Rosetta’s Comet! Where Shall We Land?

11 Aug , 2014 by

What’s one of the first things you do when arriving at a new destination? Likely it would be scoping out the local neighborhood. Getting a sense of its terrain and the good things to do around there.

That’s part of what Rosetta’s team is working on since arriving at its comet early in the morning of Aug. 6 (Eastern time). While only a few pictures have been beamed back to the public so far of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the glimpses of its surface are tantalizing. Which is important, because a little spacecraft is on its way there.

As the team busily calibrates its instruments and snaps pictures of the surface, one of their first tasks will be to pick a landing site for Philae, the machine that is scheduled to leave Rosetta and actually touch softly down on the surface in November. This is the first time such a soft-landing has been attempted, and it’s been a long decade of waiting for the scientists who sent the two spacecraft on their way.

Picking a spot will be difficult for the team, they explained last week. The gravity is light and the terrain is not only difficult to navigate, but also hard to choose from. Would you prefer a crater or a cliff? That will be what science investigators will examine in the coming months.

As they do that, check out the latest pictures of the comet in the gallery below.

A view of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken by the Rosetta spacecraft on Aug. 9, 2014. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

A view of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken by the Rosetta spacecraft on Aug. 9, 2014. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

A dark hollow beckons in this picture of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken by the Rosetta spacecraft Aug. 5, 2014. Credit:  ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

A dark hollow beckons in this picture of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken by the Rosetta spacecraft Aug. 5, 2014. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

The Rosetta spacecraft captured the "rubbe duckie" shape of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Aug. 6, 2014. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

The Rosetta spacecraft captured the “rubbe duckie” shape of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Aug. 6, 2014. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

The mottled surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko beckons in this picure taken by the Rosetta spacecraft on Aug. 7, 2014. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

The mottled surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko beckons in this picure taken by the Rosetta spacecraft on Aug. 7, 2014. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

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FarAwayLongAgo
Member
FarAwayLongAgo
August 11, 2014 1:36 PM

In the second photo from the top here it really does look like the African Nimba mythological figure! So I suppose I can unfortunately answer the question:

“What’s one of the first things you do when arriving at a new destination?”

With: I see a face…

No no, the direct reflection of sunlight fools our eyesight which is used to atmospherically dispersed light instead of totally sharp shadows.

Tim Reyes
Member
August 11, 2014 5:36 PM
Reaching orbit around this comet P67 is historical, monumental, a first. It is an amazing looking object. But there is only so much real estate to photograph and unique angles, so very soon the curious among us, my hand is raised, will need something more – closer in photos and spectral analysis. From it’s appearance, it seems like a spent comet. It’s a short period comet but its present orbit was only recently modified by Jupiter (1959) to its present closest Sun distance (perihelion) of about 1 & 1/4th the distance from the Earth to the Sun. It doesn’t get very close. Where did this comet originate? The Oort cloud, Kuiper belt? Will this mission answer all the… Read more »
Jeffrey Boerst
Member
August 13, 2014 2:00 AM

Excellent, lucid analysis! You’ve compounded my concept of this mission a couple times over with these thoughts! I wish that more comments were this thought provoking.

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