View of Comet from Lander During Descent

This image of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko was acquired by the Philae lander of the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission during Philae's descent toward the comet on Nov. 12, 2014. Philae's ROLIS (ROsetta Lander Imaging System) took the image at 14:38:41 UTC (6:38:41 a.m., PST) at a distance of approximately two miles (three kilometers) from the surface. The landing site is imaged with a resolution of about 10 feet (three meters) per pixel.

The ROLIS instrument is a down-looking imager that acquires images during the descent and doubles as a multispectral close-up camera after the landing. The aim of the ROLIS experiment is to study the texture and microstructure of the comet's surface. It was developed by the German Aerospace Center's Institute of Planetary Research, Berlin.

The lander separated from the orbiter at 09:03 UTC (1:03 a.m. PST) for touch down on comet 67P seven hours later.

Rosetta and Philae had been riding through space together for more than 10 years. Philae is the first probe to achieve soft landing on a comet, and Rosetta is the first to rendezvous with a comet and follow it around the sun. The information collected by Philae at one location on the surface will complement that collected by the Rosetta orbiter for the entire comet.

Rosetta is a European Space Agency mission with contributions from its member states and NASA. Rosetta's Philae lander is provided by a consortium led by the German Aerospace Center, Cologne; Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Gottingen; French National Space Agency, Paris; and the Italian Space Agency, Rome. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the U.S. participation in the Rosetta mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.  Rosetta carries three NASA instruments in its 21-instrument payload.

For more information on the U.S. instruments aboard Rosetta, visit: http://rosetta.jpl.nasa.gov . For more information about Rosetta, visit http://www.esa.int/rosetta .

Image credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/DLR

Page Last Updated: November 12th, 2014
Page Editor: Tony Greicius