A Glorious View of Comet 67P’s Jets

Dusty iceballs left over from the birth of the Solar System, comets are most famously known for their tails: long diffuse veils of ejected gas and reflective frozen material streaming out from their nucleus millions of miles away from the Sun. And even though we’ve typically been seeing it as a rugged rubble pile, Rosetta’s…

New OSIRIS Image of 67P Shows a Color Picture of a Black and White World

Many of the images we’ve been seeing of the craggy surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, as incredible as they are, are still monochrome. Now Rosetta’s OSIRIS team has released a true-color image of the comet taken with it high-res science imaging instrument… but even then it’s still pretty much grey.

ESA Landed a Robot on a Comet Today!

History has been made! At 11:03 a.m. EST / 16:03 UTC today, Nov. 12 2014, during an event telecast live online, ESA received confirmation from its Philae lander that it successfully touched down and attached to the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, currently 509.5 million km (316 million miles) from Earth. It is the first time a human-made spacecraft…

Seven Days Out: ESA’s Historic Landing on a Comet is Just a Week Away

In less than a week, on November 12, 2014, the Philae lander will separate from ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft and descend several kilometers down to the dark, dusty and frozen surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Its three spindly legs and rocket-powered harpoon are all that will keep the 100-kilogram spacecraft from crashing or bouncing hopelessly back out…

Here’s Where ESA’s Philae Will Make the First Ever Landing on a Comet

The long-awaited deployment of the Philae lander, currently “piggybacked” aboard ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft orbiting the nucleus of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, will occur in less than a month and we now have our best look yet at the area now green-lighted for touchdown. The picture above, made from two images acquired by Rosetta’s OSIRIS imaging instrument, shows a 500-meter circle…

Spacecraft’s Selfie is Photobombed by a Comet

In-situ spacecraft “selfies” are always a treat and this one is awesome times two: taken by the Philae lander piggybacked onto ESA’s Rosetta, it shows one of the spacecraft’s 14-meter-long (46-foot) solar arrays glinting with reflected sunlight while off in the distance is the “rubber duckie” Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko! Read more about this image here.

Space Mountain!

Where do you suppose this rocky, jagged peak is located? Sierra Nevada? The French Alps? The Himalayas? Actually this craggy mountain is located much, much farther away than any of those Earthly ranges (although it’s currently getting closer by the day) – this is a peak on the 4-km-wide nucleus of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, imaged by…

Is Earth Alive?

Proposed by scientists James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in the 70s, the Gaia theory suggests Earth is a self-supporting singular life form, similar to a cell. The theory claims that, rather than being merely a stage upon which life exists, life — in all forms — works to actively construct an Earthly environment in which it can…

Small Worlds, Big Surprises

Far from being just a jagged hunk of rock tumbling through space, the asteroid Lutetia – visited by the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft this past July – has been found to be coated with a 2000-foot-thick layer of dust and rocks, visibly softening the edges of craters and ridges on its surface. This layer…

Lutetia in the Limelight

On the night of Saturday, July 10, 2010, ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft passed by the 80-plus-mile-wide asteroid Lutetia at a distance of less than 2000 miles, and retured a series of wonderfully detailed images of this intriguing little member of our solar system. The image above, cropped and rotated 90º, shows Lutetia’s cratered surface, covered with…

South Pacific

Another beautiful image of Earth from the Rosetta spacecraft’s OSIRIS imaging system, showing swirling clouds in an anticyclone over the South Pacific. The false-color composite is a portion of a larger view of the planet, taken as Rosetta flew by Earth on November 13. It is a combination of image data taken through the orange,…

Good Morning Antarctica

Last night the Rosetta spacecraft took this stunning image of Earth, showing the rosy crescent of the southern pole lit by the summer sun. (It’s nearing the height of summer in Antarctica, when the sun never fully sets for several months.) Click for a larger view. Absolutely beautiful. I rotated the image so that south…