ESA’s comet-chasing Rosetta mission is best known today for its two historic firsts of entering orbit around a comet and sending a lander onto the surface of said comet, in May and November of 2014 respectively. But Rosetta didn’t just go directly from its March 2, 2004 launch to comet 67P; it had to perform several flyby maneuvers beforehand with planets and asteroids on its way out to meet a comet. And now, ESA has shared many of the images acquired during those close passes during its cruise phase in a series of online albums for the public to easily access.
The image above shows the Moon beyond the hazy line of Earth’s atmosphere, acquired on March 4, 2005 during Rosetta’s first gravity-assist flyby of Earth just over a year after its launch. (Rosetta made three such passes by our planet before gathering enough velocity to make it out to 67P!)
See a list of Rosetta’s flybys below and find out how to access the albums.
Now containing two sets of Navcam data set releases, the image archives can be found here. They currently include images from Rosetta’s cruise phase as well as those acquired during approach to comet 67P/C-G up until Aug. 1, 2014.
More images will be added as data sets are released. The next release is expected on April 30.
Below is a list of Rosetta’s key flyby events before its arrival at 67P.
- March 2004 – Launch
- March 2005 – Earth 1 Gravity Assist
- Feb 2007 – Mars Gravity Assist
- Nov 2007 – Earth 2 Gravity Assist
- Sept 2008 – Asteroid Steins Flyby
- Nov 2009 – Earth 3 Gravity Assist
- July 2010 – Asteroid Lutetia Flyby
- May 2014 – Rendezvous with Comet C-G (source: NASA/JPL)