At a distance of only 10 miles from comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko's surface, the European Rosetta mission has captured yet another dazzling self portrait with the dark comet lurking in the background. But the orbiter couldn't have snapped this "selfie" without the help of a little friend - the attached Philae lander that is currently undergoing preparations for its historic comet surface landing in November.
PHOTOS: Meet Rosetta's Beautiful Lumpy Comet
This photograph was captured by Philae's CIVA (Comet Infrared and Visible Analyser) imaging system on Oct. 7. CIVA is one of ten instruments the lander will use to study the comet's surface up-close after landing. To photograph the full dynamic range of the scene, two exposures were taken - one short and one long - to capture the dark comet and bright mission hardware including Rosetta's solar array in the foreground.
In September, a similar photograph was imaged at a distance of over 30 miles away, so in this latest shot, more of the comet's fascinating surface features can be seen.
Most strikingly, the comet's jets of gas and dust are clearly visible emanating from the ‘neck' area connecting the two icy lobes. These jets are caused by the sublimation of cometary ices being heated by the sun.
PHOTO: Rosetta's Lander Philae Snaps Mind-Blowing Comet Selfie
According to the European Space Agency's Rosetta Blog, this will be the last selfie Philae will snap before its departure on Nov. 12. After detaching from the Rosetta spacecraft, the lander will turn around and photograph Rosetta as it descends to the cometary surface "to bid it a final farewell."
Further details about the descent observational campaign are outlined in the blog:
While the lander's ROLIS (Rosetta Lander Imaging System) instrument will take images during the descent phase, CIVA will be tasked with making a 360 degree panoramic image of the landing site, including a section in stereo, once safely on the surface of 67P/C-G. The images and other data collected by Philae will provide important in situ information about this particular region on the comet, providing ‘ground truth' data that can be used to complement the data collected for the whole comet from the Rosetta orbiter now and into 2015, as the comet becomes more active.
NEWS: Rosetta Sees Jets Blast from Comet's ‘Neck'
As proven by Rosetta's continuing observational campaign of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the icy mass is a smorgasbord of fascinating cometary science - just imagine what we'll see and learn when Philae makes its daring landing next month.
Source: Rosetta Blog via Universe Today