Image Credit & Copyright: ESA/Rosetta MPS for OSIRIS Team. Check below for an unnecessary number of links to include mission timelines and real time tracking of 67P and Rosetta.
Here’s the latest image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko “Cherry-Gerry or just 67P” taken by ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft on August 1, 2014 at a distance of 621 miles (1,000 km). As you can see there’s much more detail in this image than the July 14 & the July 29 images which really shook things up for the Rosetta team.
The initial shock of a contact binary nucleus has now given way to an oddly shaped nucleus, roughly 4 x 3 kilometers, with two lobes or balls of mass with a thin connecting bridge between the two. Surface features are starting to reveal themselves as we can see topographical changes throughout its terrain as well as variations in the color of that terrain. This newly gleaned information we add to current data we’ve collected (6.45 year orbital period, 12.7 hour rotational period, perihelion on August 13, 2015 etc.) to better paint a picture of the current situation and every day review, preview and tweak the details of the mission as needed.
Either way, the discovery that 67P isn’t really spherical in any way has certainly made things interesting. When Rosetta enters into orbit this Wednesday, August 6, 2014 it will have to overcome yet another obstacle to reach the destination of success. However, after more than ten years of amazing achievements and firsts I have no reason to believe that this discovery and its subsequent challenges will prove to be too much for ESA and their resources.
As I said, Rosetta reaches 67P this Wednesday the 6th and landing of the 100 kg, 3 legged Philae lander onto the comet’s surface, is at this time scheduled for sometime in November 2014 where it then, along with the orbiting Rosetta, will ride the active comet around the sun on to a fate unknown.
If you are so inclined, here are the previous 2 posts I’ve created on this wildly fantastic mission:
WHERE IS ROSETTA?!! (Tracking site) http://sci.esa.int/where_is_rosetta/
WHERE IS ROSETTA?! (Real time tracking) http://theskylive.com/rosetta-info
WHERE IS COMET 67P?! (Real time tracking): http://theskylive.com/67p-info
ESA Rosetta page: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Rosetta
ESA Rosetta BLOG: http://blogs.esa.int/rosetta/
ESA Science Rosetta page: http://sci.esa.int/rosetta/
Rosetta Overview: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Rosetta_overview
NASA JPL Rosetta page: https://rosetta.jpl.nasa.gov/
Science at NASA Rosetta page: http://science.nasa.gov/missions/rosetta/
Rosetta on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ESA_Rosetta
Rosetta on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RosettaMission
ESA on Twitter: https://twitter.com/esa
ESA Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EuropeanSpaceAgency
ESA Rosetta Images: http://www.esa.int/spaceinimages/Missions/Rosetta/(class)/image
NASA/JPL Rosetta Images: http://rosetta.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/images
NASA Rosetta Images: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/features/rosetta_images20100710.html
ESA Rosetta Images on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/europeanspaceagency/sets/72157638315605535/
ESA Rosetta 67P images: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Rosetta/Highlights/Closer_and_closer
ESA Comet 67P at 1000km: http://blogs.esa.int/rosetta/2014/08/02/comet-at-1000-km/
NASA Solar System Simulator (interactive): http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/
NASA Eyes on the Solar System (interactive): http://eyes.nasa.gov/download.html