Rosetta spies Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko
The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft, launched in 2004, has just gone into hibernation until 2014, as it continues to cruise towards its far-flung rendezvous with a comet. Once there it will drop a lander on the nucleus and then accompany the comet as it orbits towards the Sun. Before Rosetta went to sleep, its camera OSIRIS was able to pick out its target, Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko,160 million kilometres away among the background stars. This is the picture released today from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS).
“We had not expected to be able to create first images from so far away,” says the lead investigator for OSIRIS, Holger Sierks of MPS.
The press release from MPS is here http://www.mps.mpg.de/en/aktuelles/pressenotizen/pressenotiz_20110608.html
And from ESA here http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEM38RJ4LOG_index_0.html
By the way, next week (15 June) I’ll be taking part in an ESA TV programme about Rosetta and its predecessor Giotto, at ESOC, ESA’s mission control in Darmstadt.
Added 12 June: The event will start in the afternoon at 16:30 CEST. (15:30 BST) and will be webstreamed live at www.esa.int