Rosetta Sets Sights on Destination Comet

The Rosetta spacecraft has caught a first glimpse of its destination comet since waking up from deep-space hibernation on Jan. 20. The first images of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko were taken on March 20 and 21 by the Optical, Spectroscopic and Infrared Remote Imaging System (OSIRIS) wide-angle camera and narrow-angle camera. Rosetta is an international mission spearheaded by the European Space Agency with support and instruments provided by NASA.

The two images were taken at a distance of about three million miles (five million kilometers) and required a series of exposures of 60 to 300 seconds, taken with the wide-angle and narrow-angle camera. The imaging of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is part of six weeks of activities dedicated to preparing the spacecraft’s science instruments for close-up study of the comet. Rosetta has been traveling through the solar system for 10 years, and will arrive at the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August of this year.

Rosetta was reactivated Jan. 20 after a record 957 days in hibernation. The three U.S. instruments aboard Rosetta are the Microwave Instrument for the Rosetta Orbiter, Alice (an ultraviolet imaging spectrograph) and the Ion and Electron Sensor.

This image of comet 67P/Churymov-Gerasimenko was taken on March 21, 2014, by the narrow-angle camera of the Rosetta spacecraft's Optical, Spectroscopic and Infrared Remote Imaging System (OSIRIS). Image Credit: ESA. Copyright: 2014 MPS for OSIRIS-Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM.

This image of comet 67P/Churymov-Gerasimenko was taken on March 21, 2014, by the narrow-angle camera of the Rosetta spacecraft’s Optical, Spectroscopic and Infrared Remote Imaging System (OSIRIS). Image Credit: ESA. Copyright: 2014 MPS for OSIRIS-Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM.

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