Long Before it Captured a Comet, Rosetta Caught These Views of Mars
These days the world is looking in awe at the incredible images of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft. But it took Rosetta over ten years to arrive at the comet, during which time it got some great views of other worlds in our Solar System as well: Earth (a couple of times), the asteroids Lutetia and 2867 Steins, and, on this day in 2007, Mars!
The image above was captured by the Philae lander riding aboard Rosetta as the two spacecraft passed just 1,000 km (621 miles) over Mars on Feb. 24-25, 2007. The image shows one of Rosetta’s 14-meter (50-foot) -long solar panels with the surface of Mars below, showing the Mawrth Vallis region in the planet’s northern lowlands.
Named for the Welsh word for Mars, Mawrth Vallis was a proposed site for the MSL mission due to its evident erosion by flowing water.
The image below was captured by the OSIRIS instrument during Rosetta’s approach to Mars on Feb. 24, 2007, from a distance of 240,000 km (150,000 miles).