Rosetta mission

Philae landing on comet
Philae landing on comet
Image 1/23, Image: ESA–C. Carreau/ATG medialab.

Philae landing on comet

Artist’s impression of the Rosetta orbiter deploying the Philae lander to comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (not to scale).

Course of the landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
Course of the landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
Image 2/23, Image: DLR/ESA

Course of the landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) Lander Control Center (LCC) is responsible for the operation and commanding the Philae lander.

The Philae lander on board the European Rosetta spacecraft
The Philae lander on board the European Rosetta spacecraft
Image 3/23, Image: DLR (CC-BY 3.0).

The Philae lander on board the European Rosetta spacecraft

Since its launch in 2004, Rosetta has been 'protecting' the small Philae lander from all the harsh conditions encountered in interplanetary space. (Frame from 'Chasing A Comet – The Rosetta Mission'.)

Philae landing on the comet
Philae landing on the comet
Image 4/23, Image: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Philae landing on the comet

In 2014, the Philae lander on board the European Rosetta spacecraft will reach comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The goal of this first landing on a comet is to learn more about the formation of the Solar System.

Philae drill
Philae drill
Image 5/23, Image: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Philae drill

Few things could be more fascinating or demanding in the history of European space travel than the Rosetta comet mission. The lander, Philae, will separate from its parent craft on 11 November 2014, touch down on the comet and immediately fire harpoons to anchor itself on the surface. The two spacecraft will then accompany the comet on its month-long journey to the point at which it is closest to the Sun.

Mars, imaged by Rosetta during its 2007 fly-by
Mars, imaged by Rosetta during its 2007 fly-by
Image 6/23, Image: ESA © 2007 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/ LAM/IAA/ RSSD/ INTA/UPM/ DASP/ IDA

Mars, imaged by Rosetta during its 2007 fly-by

On 25 February 2007, the Rosetta spacecraft flew past Mars on its way to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The image shows a global view of Mars. It was acquired on 24 February 2007 from a distance about 240,000 kilometres with the narrow angle camera of the Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System (OSIRIS). It is composed of recordings made using three filters – near infrared, green and near ultraviolet; the resolution is about five kilometres per pixel. A veil of clouds in the atmosphere and the ice cap at the South Pole, which has almost its largest seasonal expansion at the onset of spring in the southern hemisphere, are clearly visible.

Measuring Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
Measuring Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
Image 7/23, Image: Image: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM; Dimensions: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Measuring Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko's dimensions, as measured from images taken by Rosetta's OSIRIS imaging system. The images shown in the graphic were taken by Rosetta's navigation camera on 19 August. The larger lobe of the comet measures 4.1 x 3.2 x 1.3 km, while the smaller lobe is 2.5 x 2.5 x 2.0 km.

Inhomogeneous surface
Inhomogeneous surface
Image 8/23, Image: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA.

Inhomogeneous surface

The scientists on the OSIRIS (Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System) team have divided the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko into 19 different regions.

Comet wide-angle view
Comet wide-angle view
Image 9/23, Image: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Comet wide-angle view

Wide-angle view of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko taken by OSIRIS on 12 September 2014.

An active comet
An active comet
Image 10/23, Image: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team/MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

An active comet

This recording of the OSIRIS camera shows the spot (marked with a red circle) on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, where the massive gas eruption occurred on 29 July 2015.

Comet on 16 January 2015
Comet on 16 January 2015
Image 11/23, Image: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0

Comet on 16 January 2015

This four-image mosaic comprises Rosetta navigation camera images taken from a distance of 28.4 km from the centre of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 16 January. The image resolution is 2.4 m/pixel and the individual 1024 x 1024 frames measure about 2.5 km across. The mosaic measures 4.5 x 4.2 km.

Comet on 3 February 2015
Comet on 3 February 2015
Image 12/23, Image: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0

Comet on 3 February 2015

This four-image mosaic comprises images taken from a distance of 28.7 km from the centre of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 3 February. The image resolution is 2.4 m/pixel and the individual 1024 x 1024 frames measure 2.5 km across. The mosaic measures 4.2 x 4.6 km.

View of Churyumov-Gerasimenko from an altitude of 67.4 metres
View of Churyumov-Gerasimenko from an altitude of 67.4 metres
Image 13/23, Image: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/ROLIS/DLR

View of Churyumov-Gerasimenko from an altitude of 67.4 metres

This image, acquired by the ROLIS camera, shows the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko from an altitude of 67.4 metres on 12 November 2014. The camera, located on the bottom side of the lander, was able to photograph the originally planned landing site, Agilkia, during the descent. A portion of the landing gear is seen in the upper right corner of the image. Clearly visible is the comet's surface, exhibiting unexpectedly coarse material and a five-metre tall boulder. The ROLIS camera is operated under the scientific leadership of the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

The Philae landing site
The Philae landing site
Image 14/23, Image: Ellipse: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CONSERT; Image: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

The Philae landing site

Using measurements performed by the COmet Nucleus Sounding Experiment by Radio wave Transmission (CONSERT) instrument, the location of Philae on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has been narrowed down to an ellipse of 16 by 160 metres (marked in red).

Overflight view
Overflight view
Image 15/23, Image: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Overflight view

On 14 February 2015, the Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System (OSIRIS) on the Rosetta spacecraft observed the surface of comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko in the Imhotep region with the Sun directly behind it from an altitude of six kilometres. The image resolution is 11 centimetres per pixel. The orbiter’s shadow is visible as a dark rectangular patch in the lower part of the image.

14 February close flyby
14 February close flyby
Image 16/23, Image: ESA/Rosetta/NavCam – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0

14 February close flyby

Four-image mosaic of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko comprising images taken on 14 February 2015 during the first dedicated close flyby. This image set was taken at 14:15 GMT from a distance of 8.9 km from the surface. The image scale is 0.76 m/pixel.

Jet streams on Churyumov-Gerasimenko
Jet streams on Churyumov-Gerasimenko
Image 17/23, Image: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM - CC BY-SA IGO 3.0

Jet streams on Churyumov-Gerasimenko

A prominent jet, together with gas an dust outflows are visible in this four-image mosaic, created from images acquired by Rosetta's Navigation Camera NAVCAM on 31 January 2015. The comet’s activity will increase as it approaches the Sun. Model calculations show that the northern section can expect to lose a few metres of surface throughout the orbit, while the southern part will lose up to 20 metres.

A close-up of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
A close-up of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
Image 18/23, Image: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

A close-up of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

This image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was acquired from a distance of just eight kilometres. The OSIRIS (Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System) camera imaged an area located on the comet’s ‘head’. The resolution is approximately 15 centimetres per pixel.

Imhotep region on Churyumov–Gerasimenko
Imhotep region on Churyumov–Gerasimenko
Image 19/23, Image: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Imhotep region on Churyumov–Gerasimenko

Surface textures on the border of the board, smooth region in Imhotep, on the large lobe of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

Comet on 21 January 2015
Comet on 21 January 2015
Image 20/23, Image: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0

Comet on 21 January 2015

This four-image mosaic comprises Rosetta navigation camera images taken from a distance of 27.9 km from the centre of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 21 January. The image resolution is 2.4 m/pixel and the individual 1024 x 1024 frames measure about 2.4 km across. The mosaic measures 4.2 x 4 km.

Rosetta Mission Logo
Rosetta Mission Logo
Image 21/23, Image: ESA

Rosetta Mission Logo

Rosetta Mission Logo.

Philae: found!
Philae: found!
Image 22/23, Image: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Philae: found!

Shortly before the end of the mission, the OSIRIS camera system fitted to Rosetta managed to locate Philae at its landing site on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Comet lander Philae on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
Comet lander Philae on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
Image 23/23, Image: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Comet lander Philae on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

The Rosetta orbiter has been drawing ever closer to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Now the Philae landing craft is clearly visible in the image acquired by the OSIRIS camera system.

In 2014, the Philae lander on board the European Rosetta spacecraft reached comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The goal of this first landing on a comet was to learn more about the formation of the Solar System.

Media items
  • Philae landing on comet

    Philae landing on comet

    Image: ESA–C. Carreau/ATG medialab.  |  Download
    Artist’s impression of the Rosetta orbiter deploying the Philae lander to comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (not to scale).
  • Course of the landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

    Course of the landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

    Image: DLR/ESA  |  Download
    The German Aerospace Center (DLR) Lander Control Center (LCC) is responsible for the operation and commanding the Philae lander.
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