ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft has witnessed 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko make its closest approach to the Sun (perihelion) at 3:03am BST on 13 August, when the comet came within 116 million miles of our nearest star. Rosetta’s measurements suggest the comet is currently spewing up to 300kg of water vapour and a metric tonne of dust every second, creating dangerous working conditions for the spacecraft.
Recently released images compiled into a movie show the descent of the European Space Agency’s Philae lander to its first touchdown site, Agilkia, on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on 12 November 2014. The image sequence starts just over two miles from the comet, and the final image is from just 9 metres above the landing site.
Emboldened by renewed contact with Europe’s comet lander, engineers are repositioning the mission’s Rosetta mothership this week to establish a reliable a communications link with the dishwasher-sized Philae landing craft, a prerequisite for resuming a science campaign abbreviated by a power shortfall last year.
Scientists from Rosetta’s OSIRIS team have discovered an extraordinary formation in the Aker region on the larger lobe of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The largest of a group of three boulders with a diameter of approximately 30 metres appears to perch on the rim of a small depression. There seems to be only a very small contact area with the nucleus.