August 20, 2014 8:00 pm

Rosetta: Closing in on History

Photo of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken by Rosetta on August 7 from 104 km distance


Recognize this picture?

It’s Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as seen on August 7th from a distance of just 104 km by the Rosetta spacecraft.

(That’s just under 65 miles away for those of us in the US, where we still haven’t joined nearly all of the rest of the world in adapting the metric system.)

65 miles!

That’s an hour away if you’re driving the speed limit on the NJ Turnpike.

And in November, the Philae Lander will detach from Rosetta to land on the surface of the comet.

This isn’t Armageddon or Deep Impact, so it’s just a little 100 kg lander that will touch down on the surface, not Bruce Willis. But Philae does have a drilling system – to take samples of subsurface material.

In fact, compared to a Michael Bay blockbuster bursting with high octane explosions and death-defying heroics, Rosetta’s mission seems kind of, well… boring.

Let’s hope it stays that way, because when that little lander tweets its first words from the surface of 67/P, there will be plenty of excitement to go around.

By the way, if you’re interested, Rosetta is tweeting at @ESA_Rosetta and Philae is tweeting at @Philae2014.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!

–Jeffrey Simons

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