Rosetta Wows With Amazing Closeups of Comet 67P Before Final ‘Crunchdown’

Article written: 30 Sep , 2016
Updated: 30 Sep , 2016
by
Landscape on Comet 67P taken from just 10 miles (16 km) up late Thursday evening during Rosetta's free fall . The image measures 2,014 feet (614 meters) across or just under a half-mile. At typical walking speed, you could walk from one end to the other in 10 minutes. Credit: ESA/Rosetta

Craggy hills meet dust-covered plains in this landscape on Comet 67P taken from 10 miles (16 km) up late Thursday evening during Rosetta’s free fall . The image measures 2,014 feet (614 meters) across or just under a half-mile. At typical walking speed, you could walk from one side to the other in 10 minutes. This and all the photos below are copyright ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Rosetta fell silent moments after 6:19 a.m. Eastern Time (12:19 UT) this morning, when it gently crashed into 67P/C-G 446 million miles (718 million km) from Earth. As the probe descended to the comet’s bouldery surface of the comet in free fall, it snapped a series of ever-more-detailed photographs while gathering the last bits data on the density and composition of cometary gases, surface temperature and gravity field before the final curtain was drawn.

Let’s take the trip down, shall we?

Rosetta's last navigation camera image was taken just after the collision maneuver sequence Thursday evening (CDT) when the probe was 9.56 miles (15.4 km) above the comet's surface. Credit: ESA/Rosetta

Rosetta’s last navigation camera image was taken just after the collision maneuver sequence Thursday evening (CDT) when the probe was 9.56 miles (15.4 km) above the comet’s surface. As in the photo above, much of the landscape is coated in a thick layer of dust that smoothes the comet’s contours.

As Rosetta continues its descent onto the Ma'at region on the small lobe of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the OSIRIS narrow-angle camera captured this image at 08:18 GMT from an altitude of about 5.8 km. The image shows dust-covered terrains, exposed walls and a few boulders on Ma'at, not far from the target impact region (not visible in this view - located below the lower edge).Copyright ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

As Rosetta continued its descent onto the Ma’at region on the small lobe of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the OSIRIS narrow-angle camera captured this photo from 3.6 miles (5.8 km) up. We see dust-covered terrains, exposed walls and a few boulders on Ma’at, not far from the target impact region, which is located just below the lower edge. The image measures 738 feet (225 meters) across.

Comet from 5.7 km. Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera captured this image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at 08:21 GMT during the spacecraft’s final descent on September 30, 2016. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Just a little bit lower now. This photo showing dramatic shadows was taken from 3.5 miles (5.7 km) above the surface of the comet at 4:21 a.m. EDT Friday morning September 30.

It looks like the probe's headed for the abyss! This photo was made at 6:14 a.m. just minutes before impact from 3/4 mile (1.2 km) high. The scene measures just 33 meters across.

Headed for the abyss? This photo was made at 6:14 a.m. from 3/4 mile (1.2 km) high just a few minutes before impact. The scene measures just 108 feet (33 meters) wide.

This is Rosetta's last image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, taken shortly before impact, an estimated 51 m above the surface.

This is Rosetta’s final image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, taken shortly before impact, an estimated 66 feet (~20 meters) above the surface. The view is similar to looking down from atop a three-story building. Side to side, the photo depicts an area only 7.8 feet (2.4 meters) across. The image is soft because Rosetta’s cameras weren’t designed to photograph the comet from this close.

Sad to see its signal fade. Going... going... gone! A sequence of screenshots showing the signal from Rosetta seen at ESA's ESOC mission control centre via NASA's 70m tracking station at Madrid during comet landing on 30 September 2016. The peak of the spectrum analyser is strong at 12:19 CEST, and a few moments later, it's gone. Credit: ESA

Sad to see its signal fade. A sequence of screenshots taken at ESA’s ESOC mission control show the signal from Rosetta fading moments before impact. The peak of the spectrum analyser is strong at 6:19 EDT, and a few moments later, it’s gone. At impact, Rosetta’s was shut down and no further communication will or can be made with the spacecraft. It will continue to rest on the comet for well-nigh eternity until 67P vaporizes and crumbles apart. Credit: ESA

, , , ,



5 Responses

  1. danR2 says

    “This is Rosetta’s final image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, taken shortly before impact, an estimated 167 feet (51 m) above the surface…” –caption, final image.
    _________
    I heard ESA’s image-guy from the broadcast saying ~ 5 meters for the final image. At 90 cm/s horizontal this would make more sense than 51 m. I’ve seen this 51 meters before, though. Was the official source of the 51 m off by a decimal?

  2. Member
    muffie1801 says

    From Rosetta blog:

    Comet landing descent image – 20m

    UPDATED CAPTION INFO

    This is Rosetta’s last image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, taken shortly before impact, an estimated 20 m above the surface.

    The initially reported 51 m was based on the predicted impact time. Now that this has been confirmed, and following additional information and timeline reconstruction, the estimated distance is now thought to be around 20 metres; analysis is ongoing.
    The image was taken with the OSIRIS wide-angle camera on 30 September 2016. The image scale is about 5 mm/pixel and the image measures about 2.4 m across.

  3. crocodilebomb says

    I love these. Reminds me of the Ranger series, when I was a kid this one fascinated me…

    http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/imgcat/hires/ra8_a060.gif

  4. paul585 says

    A fabulous mission. Intersecting and aligning to a comets orbit then sending us those brilliant close up views.
    I remember staying up one night to watch Giotto RV with Halley’s comet in 1986 and all we saw were tantalising images that left more questions than answers so finally we’ve seen a comet in close up and what amazing pictures they were and nothing like we expected.
    Very emotional farewell and I understand entirely those that would have shed a tear. Well done ESA.

Comments are closed.