The European Space Agency (ESA)’s Rosetta probe has sent some exciting new images of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta, which was launched in March 2004, has been chasing the comet for more than a decade. The new images reveal that the comet is not one, but two bodies joined together; it’s a twin. These photos were taken by the probe from a distance of 23,000 miles on July 4.
Rosetta has captured a lot more photos that could be released later this week
Scientists are still wondering how the comet could have taken this form. The 67P might have survived a major fracture at some point. Or the two parts could be of entirely different origins, reports BBC. The ESA scientists now have several unexpected considerations. Rosetta is scheduled to land the comet by the end of this year.
The photos shown in the above image are an interpolation. The actual photos are a lot more pixelated due to the distance between the comet and the probe. They are still thousands of kilometers away. The probe’s Osiris Narrow Angle Camera has a full series of photos that could be shown together as a movie. ESA is expected to release them in the next few days.
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Rosetta to land on 67P on November 11
The comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was discovered in 1969. It was named after its discoverers Klim Churyumov and Svetlana Gerasimenko. It takes about 6.45 years to circle around the sun. Rosetta is inching closer to the comet. By August 6, it will be just 70 kilometers away from the icy ball, which is about 4.5 kilometers wide.
At that stage, scientists will try to understand 67P’s gravitational field. Then the orbit will be reduced to 30 kilometers. Then the probe will start mapping to find a touchdown zone, where the Philae robot can land. The landing is scheduled for November 11. It’s the first mission of its kind. It will help scientists find valuable data about the comets.