After 12 years of travel to Comet 67P some 300 million miles away, the Rosetta’s Philae lander brought back a treasure trove of images that captivated the imagination of millions.
Now, the European Space Agency (ESA) has released another batch, and they’re even more captivating. After it touched down on November 12, Philae spent two days conducting experiments and snapping photos before its solar-powered battery died. The images below were taken by the Rosetta craft before the landing, and by Philae after touchdown.
My favorite is the “selfie” Rosetta took of itself. In the image below, the glistening metallic panels of Rosetta can be seen as the gargantuan dark comet lurks in the background, like when the Millennium Falcon slowly approached the Death Star in Episode IV. (Click on the images to enlarge)
This image is from about 28.5 km away. How the craters got there is still a matter of debate.
The flattened circular area towards the top was the intended landing target of Philae.
This is one of the first two photographs taken from the surface of the comet after Philae landed.
Since the comet’s environment is “blacker than coal,” the images had to be brightened to reveal the surface.
A “beauty shot” taken from 10 km away from the comet.
This montage was taken about 10 km from the comet’s center.
Probably the most ominous and dreamlike of the images, parts of the massive surface peer out from the darkness as it hangs in space.