While the Philae lander sits dormant on the comet’s surface, the Rosetta probe is still busy flying around comet 67p. On Saturday, Rosetta did its closest fly-by yet. It came within 6 kilometers of the comet.
Several images were taken before its closest approach and right after. The four-image mosaic below focuses on a depression on the comet’s small lobe. It was taken at a distance of 35 km and focuses on the Hatmehit region.
The next image gives us an extremely detailed look at a piece of the comet’s surface. Note the massive boulders in the center and top-center of the image. This image was taken 8.9 kilometers from the comet’s surface and focuses on features in the Imhotep region of the large lobe.
The image at the top of the post was taken from 31.6 kilometers away after Rosetta made its fly-by. You can see the smaller lobe at the top of the image with the larger lobe at the bottom. I really like how the shadows block out the neck attaching the two lobes.
In a video, the ESA notes Rosetta isn’t actually orbiting the comet. It’s conducting a series of fly-bys.
“What we will be doing is alternating far fly-bys, so maybe 50 km or so, with relatively low speed with close fly-bys with higher speeds. And, with these different flying conditions we really hope to be able to explore completely the environment of the comet,” says Andrea Accomazzo, Rosetta Flight Director at ESA.
You’ve probably noticed a couple of Egyptian names used above. Rosetta scientists opted to use ancient Egyptian naming for all of comet 67p’s features. Here’s two images highlighting every region of comet 67p and the name given to them by Rosetta scientists.