Paolo Ferri, ESA’s Head of Mission Operations, expresses relief at the apparently successful release of Philae from the Rosetta mothership but the potential loss of a crucial touchdown system has caused increased anxiety about the landing.
The camera on Rosetta’s Philae lander has snapped a ‘selfie’ with comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko in the distance about 16 km away. The image was taken on 7 October and also captures the side of the Rosetta spacecraft and one of the 14 metre-long solar wings. Two images with different exposure times were combined to bring out the faint details in this very high contrast situation. The comet’s active ‘neck’ region is clearly visible, with streams of dust and gas extending away from the surface. Image: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA.
Despite the glow of a waxing Moon, early April is a good time to catch a glimpse of comets 41P/Tuttle–Giacobini–Kresák and C/2015 V2 (Johnson) that are currently circumpolar and visible throughout the UK hours of darkness. And if you’re an early riser, there’s seventh-magnitude C/2017 E4 (Lovejoy) low in the pre-dawn eastern sky too!