Rosetta spacecraft takes an awesome accidental selfie

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Aug 5, 2013
Science! By Ryan Whitwam Sep. 11, 2014 7:32 am
Sure, Curiosity has taken a selfie on Mars, but the Rosetta spacecraft might have the rover topped. Rosetta has managed to take an accidental (but very cool) selfie as it orbits comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko at an altitude of 31 miles. The image shows one of the spacecraft’s solar panels extending outward with the distinctive two-lobed comet in the background.
Rosetta is preparing to make history after more than a decade in space. It was launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2004 on a mission to intercept 67P and land a small probe on the surface. The trip took so long because Rosetta had to get a few gravity assists from planets to line up for its rendezvous with P67. The probe in question, known as Philae, is still docked with Rosetta. The team is still scouting P67 for the right landing zone for Philae using Rosetta’s cameras, though that’s not the source of this new image.
The image is composed of two high-contrast exposures taken with Philae’s CIVA (Comet Infrared and Visible Analyser) camera. ESA was testing the probe’s systems in advance of its landing in November. it just happened to catch Rosetta’s panel in the shot. This is one of ten instruments the lander will use to study the surface of the comet after it touches down and secures itself with harpoons. CIVA will be used to build a full 360-degree panorama of the landing site and send the image back to Earth.
The ESA is expected to announce the landing site for Philae next week, which will lead to final preparations to get the probe onto the surface of P67. There are currently five candidate sites on the list. After ten years in transit, Rosetta is about to make history.

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