NPR logo PHOTO: Rosetta Sends 'An Impressive New Perspective' On Comet


PHOTO: Rosetta Sends 'An Impressive New Perspective' On Comet

Space, Douglas Adams wrote, is big. Really big. And from this vastness comes "an impressive new perspective" on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko taken by the Rosetta probe from about 77 miles away.

We won't disagree.

The European Space Agency, which operates Rosetta, says, "The image is the first single frame image capturing the entire comet nucleus since leaving bound orbits last week."

The ESA adds:

"The image provides a stunning contrast to the recent close-up images, offering new perspectives on the extent of the comet's activity. Indeed, the jets emanating from Hapi (the neck region) extend towards the edge of the frame in the upper right. Adjusting the intensity scaling, as we have done in this image, also emphasizes the nebulous 'glow' of activity that appears to be coming from all over the sunlit surfaces of the nucleus. Bringing out the jets also highlights the large amount of background 'noise', which includes material ejected from the comet."

The ESA has processed the image to bring out details of the comet's activity. Rosetta is tailing 67P as the 2.5-mile-wide comet hurtles toward the sun. It met up with the comet last August.

The probe will fly by the comet Saturday. More pictures are expected.