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In Photos: ESA Releases Best Images Captured by Rosetta During 12-Year Mission

Oct 03, 2016 03:42 AM EDT

Rosetta mission, dubbed as the "comet odyssey" bid its final farewell signaled by the spacecraft's controlled crash to a comet. The spacecraft has landed into its final resting place, but its 12-year mission provided the European Space Agency (ESA) and the scientific community with tons of new information about comets.

On Sept. 30, Rosetta headed for a maneuvered crash to Comet 67P. After its crash, ESA released the final image, the closest photograph of a comet taken by Rosetta's OSIRIS wide-angle camera. The image was taken minutes before the spacecraft crashed. Its engineers intentionally left all its scientific instrument activated to enable Rosetta to transmit images until the crash.

Rosetta took the image of Comet 67P's rocky terrain at 20 meters above the surface, while a closer image taken at a 16-meter distance captured the moonscape beyond the comet.

It may be the final image taken by Rosetta, but it's not the only one during its 12-year mission. During the earlier days of the mission, Rosetta was taking photographs of space, of the Earth and other rocks and bodies during its journey to comet 67P. It arrived on the comet's orbit, together with the Philae lander in 2014 and since then transmitted hundreds of images. Below are the most viewed and highly rated photographs taken by Rosetta, according to ESA.

Highly Rated Photographs Taken By Rosetta

1. Ejecta plume from Tempel 1, 13 seconds after impact (2005)

During the earlier years of Rosetta, it managed to capture an "ejecta" from comet 9P/Temple 1. The ejecta was a result of a NASA's Deep Impact Probe that collided with the comet in 2005

2. OSIRIS image of urban regions on Earth (2007)

In 2007, while on it's way to comet 67P, Rosetta took an image of the urban regions of the Earth. The photograph shows a distinct ring that envelops the planet Earth.

3. Asteroid Lutetia (2010)

Rosetta, while on its way to comet 67P also managed to capture an asteroid in a fairly close distance compared to what can observe by Earth-based telescopes. Here is an image of asteroid Lutetia that Rosetta captured in July 2010.

4. Comet cluster (2014)

Before reaching its destination, Rosetta captured comet 67P from a distance showing its habitat towards constellation Ophiuchus. The image was taken using Rosetta's Narrow Angle Camera.

5. Comet's 'Goosebumps' (2015)

Shortly after arriving on the orbit of comet 67P, Rosetta started beaming back images of its surface. One of the most significant discoveries of Rosetta's camera is the rocky terrain where a group of bumps can be seen concentrated on one surface, thus the name comet's 'goosebumps.'

6. Comet 67P (2016)

Before its careful descent to the comet, Rosetta captured numerous images of comet 67P for scientific purposes. This image is one of the last batches of photographs taken by Rosetta last Sept. 29.

Currently, there are thousands of images taken by Rosetta and scientists are still analyzing some of them. All these images are available on ESA Rosetta's Multimedia page. Because of these images, Rosetta's legacy will live and survive in the next decades to come or until another comet-chaser spacecraft will be launched to space.


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