During its 12-year mission, the ESA Rosetta probe made almost 100,000 photographs of comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and now they are all collected in a public electronic archive.
The last set of images, received from July to September 2016, was successfully processed and loaded into the Archive Image Browser and the Planetary Science Archive. All images are available under the Creative Commons license, so you can freely copy and share them with your friends.
ESA also released a terrific new video, created on the basis of the final set of photographs of the “Rosetta”, made in the last hours before the collision, when the device had already descended into the abyss.
The photos from the OSIRIS camera revealed such superficial features of the comet as tiny stones, boulders, craters, rocks, funnels and dust jets. Some pictures were taken from a height of 2 kilometers, and the final one was only 20 meters from the surface.
Thanks to Rosetta, scientists learned that comet 67P / Churyumova-Gerasimenko consists of two large parts connected together, which indicates the complexity of its formation. Instruments on board the probe also documented the presence of organic matter, confirming the idea that comets and other celestial objects are responsible for delivering to the Earth key building blocks of life.
The fate of the landing module “Fila”, sent by “Rosetta”, was not so successful. After contact with the surface of the comet, he jumped off in an unknown direction and for almost a year fell out of sight. One of the photos in the archive, made a few days before the end of the mission, shows the lost device.
“The collected data is a real treasure chest that will help understand the role of comets in the formation of the solar system. Of course, there are still many secrets, and much more remains to be discovered, “said ESA project officer Matt Taylor.