Fly Along With a Comet

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Animation of the nucleus of Comet 67/P Churyumov–Gerasimenko. (Courtesy ESA / Rosetta / MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS / UPD / LAM / IAA / SSO / INTA / UPM / DASP / IDA / “Herobrine”

Here’s a little Christmas present from the imaging team in charge of the OSIRIS camera on the Rosetta spacecraft, the little European probe that has been orbiting comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Though they were criticized for keeping the images to themselves for many months, the team has finally released a treasure chest of images online for the first time since Rosetta encountered the comet in August 2014. More images of the comet will be released into the albums in time. You can explore the images and albums of the Rosetta encounter with Comet 67/P at the link above.

An amateur space enthusiast and member of the Unmanned Spaceflight Forum (the user named “Herobrine“) combined 30 of the Rosetta images taken at one-minute intervals into a short animation (see above). The result is quite astonishing. You can see the detailed surface of the peanut-shaped comet, stars moving though the field of view in the background, and little pieces of the comet ejected in small jets. Many of the dots are likely cosmic ray hits on the camera’s sensor. If you have the bandwidth, you can download the full 1920 x 1080 version of this animation at this link (Warning: File size is 65 MB).

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