When night falls on Rosetta’s comet, the bizarrely shaped body remains active. This can be seen in new images of the Ma’at region located on the comet’s “head” captured by OSIRIS, the scientific imaging system on board the Rosetta spacecraft. They were taken approximately half an hour after the Sun had set over the region.

Scientists from Rosetta’s OSIRIS team have discovered an extraordinary formation on the larger lobe of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in the Aker region. From a group of three boulders the largest one stands out: images obtained on 16 September 2014 show it to perch on the rim of a small depression.

Sometimes it is all a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Or, as in the case of ESA’s space probe Rosetta, of opening your eyes at the exactly right moment. In mid-March, Rosetta’s onboard imaging system OSIRIS was able to catch the elusive moment, when a new dust jet from comet 67P awakes to life.

The Hapi region on the neck of Rosetta’s comet reflects red light less effectively than most other regions on the comet. It thus appears slightly blueish. This might point to the presence of frozen water mixed intimately with the dust at the surface.

Several days after Rosetta’s close flyby of comet 67P on 14 February 2015, images taken on this day by OSIRIS have now been downlinked to Earth. With a resolution of 11 centimeters per pixel, these data from OSIRIS’ Narrow Angle Camera reveal highly detailed structures on the comet’s surface. In addition, Rosetta’s shadow on the surface can be seen surrounded by a bright halo-like region.

The northern and southern hemisphere of Rosetta’s comet experience sun-driven erosion to a very different extent. This is the result of a recent analysis performed by Rosetta’s OSIRIS team. Based on data acquired by the scientific imaging system OSIRIS, the scientists used a thermal model to estimate how much material both hemispheres lose during one orbit as ice sublimates from the comet’s surface carrying grains of dust with it.

Rosetta's profile of a comet

January 28, 2015
A surface covered by a thermally insulating layer. A low density comparable with that of cork, and jets of dust and gas which are ejected into space to their own beat: Data recorded by ESA’S Rosetta space probe are drawing a more and more accurate picture of comet 67P. A special issue of the magazine Science provides an overview of the current state of knowledge.
ESA’s spacecraft Rosetta is currently providing unique insight into the life cycle of a comet’s dusty surface. During the previous months COSIMA could monitor how comet 67P sheds its dusty coat layer by layer. To this end, the instrument collects dust particles from the comet’s environment, images them and analyses their composition. Scientists of the COSIMA-Team report about their first results in the current issue of the journal Nature.
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has shown activity in the form of dust jets for a few months now. Recent OSIRIS images reveal that large scale jets as seen in previous images can now be resolved into many smaller jets emerging from the surface and then unite further away from the comet nucleus.
Like many small bodies in space such as most asteroids, Rosetta’s comet 67P appears grey. This can be seen in images obtained by Rosetta’s scientific imaging system OSIRIS after careful processing. To create an image revealing 67P’s “true” colours, the scientists superposed images taken with the camera’s red, green and blue filters.
New measurement data from the ESA-mission Rosetta raises doubts on the theory that comets once provided the Earth with water. An international research team led by the University of Bern investigated the water vapour from the environment of Rosetta’s comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenk with the help of the mass spectrometer ROSINA. The composition is not similar to earthly water.
OSIRIS camera on board of the Rosetta spacecraft images the journey of the lander above the nucleus of 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko. After the Philae lander was separated from Rosetta on 12 November, it remained in view of its mother space probe.

Philae has landed

November 12, 2014
November 12, 2014 goes down in history. On this Wednesday, an unmanned probe landed on a comet nucleus for the first time ever. The signal was received at 17.03 CET in the control center. Philae is to remain on the comet’s surface as a permanent research station to collect data and take measurements for at least 60 hours.

The dark side of the comet

November 06, 2014
OSIRIS has caught a glimpse of the southern side of comet 67P. During the past months, this side has continuously faced away from the Sun making it impossible to determine shape and surface structures. Only the light scattered from dust particles in the comet’s coma very slightly illuminates this uncharted territory.

Jets of Activity

October 23, 2014
Rosetta’s comet is beginning to show a clearly visible increase in activity. While in the past months most of the dust emitted from the body’s surface seemed to originate from the neck region which connects the two lobes, images obtained by Rosetta’s scientific imaging system OSIRIS now show jets of dust along almost the whole extent of the comet. 

Close-up of boulder Cheops

October 09, 2014
The scientific imaging system OSIRIS on board ESA’s spacecraft Rosetta has caught a glimpse of one of the many boulders that cover the surface of comet 67P. With a maximum extension of approximately 45 meters it is one of the larger structures of this kind. It has been named Cheops after the largest pyramid within the Giza Necropolis.

Descent onto "head" of a comet

September 16, 2014
The intended touchdown site of the Philae lander to be deployed by ESA’s Rosetta space probe is almost in the centre of the “head” of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. According to the Lander Team this region offers the best conditions for a safe landing followed by successful measurements when compared with other regions. more

A Map of Rosetta's Comet

September 08, 2014
High-resolution images of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko reveal a unique, multifaceted world. Scientists have now analyzed images of the comet's surface taken by OSIRIS, Rosetta's scientific imaging system, and allocated several distinct regions, each of which is  defined by special morphological characteristics.

Looking for a landing site

Technically feasible to fly to, as level as possible, not too much shade, not too much sun − and scientifically interesting: these are the conditions which an area on the surface of comet 67P must fulfil in order to be selected as the landing site for Philae. In an initial selection, researchers and engineers have now nominated five possible candidates.
ESA's space probe Rosetta has reached the destination of its more than ten year long journey through space. At 11.30 AM (CEST) ESA's control station picked up the long awaited signal: Rosetta has arrived at 67P. The most recent images taken by OSIRIS reveal a world of bizarre beauty.

Imaging the coma

July 31, 2014
Less than a week before Rosetta’s rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, images obtained by OSIRIS, the spacecraft’s onboard scientific imaging system, show clear signs of a coma surrounding the comet’s nucleus.
In new images of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko surface structures are becoming visible. The resolution of these images is now 100 meters per pixel. One of the most striking features is currently found in the comet’s neck region. This part of 67P seems to be brighter than the rest of the nucleus.  

The twofold comet

July 17, 2014
As ESA’s spacecraft Rosetta is slowly approaching its destination, comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is again proving to be full of surprises. New images confirm the body’s peculiar shape that earlier pictures had hinted at.

Three faces of a comet

July 10, 2014
The nucleus of comet 67P is an irregularly shaped body as seen from ESA’s spacecraft Rosetta. New images of the comet obtained by OSIRIS reveal a unique shape. The tiny world that is quickly growing bigger as Rosetta approaches its destination seems to display three prominent structures.

Almost there! ESA’s spacecraft Rosetta eases closer and closer to comet 67P and has now reached a distance comparable to the small stretch of space that separates weather satellites in geo-stationary orbit from Earth. In new images the comet’s nucleus is beginning to cover several pixels. The resolved images now give scientists a first hunch of its shape.

As ESA’s spacecraft Rosetta decelerates in preparation of its rendezvous with comet 67P in early August, the onboard scientific imaging system OSIRIS reveals a surprise: after the first evidence of activity at the end of April, the comet is currently at rest again.

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has begun to develop a dust coma. This can be seen in a series of images taken by OSIRIS, the spacecraft’s scientific imaging system, between March 27th and May 4th. more
A little more than four months before the arrival of ESA’s spacecraft Rosetta at the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko researchers led by the MPS have successfully commissioned OSIRIS, the space probe’s scientific imaging system. On the first shots, however, the target comet covers only a fraction of a pixel.

After comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko had disappeared behind the Sun and out of the Earth’s view last year in October, it can now be seen again. In the most recent image obtained by researchers from the MPS and the European Southern Observatory on February 28th, 2014, the comet presents itself brighter than expected.

ESA's spaceprobe Rosetta has awakend from its more than 30 months of hibernation. Today at 7.18 p.m. Rosetta's signal arrived at ESA's European Space Operations Center in Darmstadt (Germany) - after 42 long minutes of waiting. Before noon at 11 a.m., an internal timer clock had started a series of commands ending with Rosetta's signal to Earth.

VLT spies Rosetta's comet

January 20, 2014
ESA's Rosetta spacecraft is scheduled to wake up today after more than 30 months in deep space hibernation. Already, an image obtained on 5. October 2013 from a distance of approximately 500 million kilometers by MPS-researchers with the help of the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope shows the mission's final destination: the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The image is the most recent observation of the comet.

Rosetta's final sprint to the comet

After a long, deep sleep the Rosetta space probe will be awoken on 20 January.The electronic wake-up call heralds the last stage of a journey through the solar system that has lasted more than 10 years. At its end is the unique encounter between the European space probe and the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet in August of this year.
On its way towards the Sun comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, next year's destination of ESA's spacecraft Rosetta, will start emitting gas and dust earlier than previously expected. The comet's activity should be measurable from Earth by March 2014, says a study performed under the lead of the MPS.

Primal rock in space

October 27, 2011
Lutetia is a real fossil: several areas of the asteroid's surface are around 3.6 billion years old and thus some of the oldest in the planetary system. These findings have been obtained by scientists headed by the MPS. The team has evaluated images which the Rosetta space probe recorded during its fly-by of Lutetia in July 2010.
Approximately 163 million kilometers still separate ESA's spacecraft Rosetta from comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, its 2014 target. Despite this remarkable distance, scientists from the MPS have succeeded in obtaining the first images of the remote destination using the onboard camera system OSIRIS.

Asteroid collision forensics

October 14, 2010
In the first half of February 2009 two asteroids collided in a region of space beyond the orbit of Mars, as scientists from the MPS have now discovered. The researchers were able to pinpoint the exact date of the impact more precisely than ever before.
Die ESA-Raumsonde Rosetta ist am Samstag, 10. Juli, gegen 18 Uhr an dem Asteroiden Lutetia vorbeigeflogen. Bilder dieses einzigartigen Ereignisses hat das Kamerasystem OSIRIS aufgenommen. Die detaillierten Aufnahmen zeigen nicht nur zahlreiche Krater auf der Oberfläche des Asteroiden, sondern auch einzelne Felsbrocken und parallel verlaufende Rillen. more
Auf eine besondere Begegnung steuert die ESA-Raumsonde Rosetta am Samstag, 10. Juli, gegen 18 Uhr zu. Nur etwa 3000 Kilometer werden die Raumsonde dann von dem Asteroiden Lutetia trennen. Aufnahmen dieses einzigartigen Ereignisses liefert das Kamerasystem OSIRIS an Bord. more

Where comets emit dust

April 26, 2010
Studying comets can be quite dangerous - especially from close up. Because the tiny particles of dust emitted into space from the so-called active regions on a comet’s surface can damage space probes. Scientists from the MPS have now developed a computer model that can locate these regions using only the information available from Earth. The new method could help calculate a safe flight route for ESA’s space probe Rosetta.

Diamant im All

January 08, 2010
Im Fernrohr ist der Kleinplanet Steins ein unscheinbares Lichtpünktchen. Bei näherem Hinsehen entpuppt er sich als eine Art Schutthalde mit diamantähnlicher Form und großen Kratern auf der Oberfläche. Näher hingesehen haben MPS-Forscher mit Hilfe des Kamerasystems OSIRIS an Bord der europäischen Raumsonde Rosetta. more
Die ESA-Raumsonde Rosetta ist am 12. November 2009 mit einer Geschwindigkeit von 50.000 km/h an der Erde vorbei geflogen. Diesen Vorbeiflug nutzten die MPS-Wissenschaftler, um spektakuläre Bilder zu machen. Das Kamera-System OSIRIS, das unter Federführung des MPS von einem europäischen Konsortium entwickelt und gebaut wurde, lieferte etwa 250 brillante Bilder der Erde. more
Die ESA-Raumsonde Rosetta ist in der vergangenen Nacht in nur 800 Kilometern Entfernung an dem Asteroiden Steins vorbeigeflogen. Mit Hilfe des Kamerasystems OSIRIS, das unter Leitung des MPS entwickelt wurde, sind spektakuläre Aufnahmen gelungen. Die Bilder zeigen tiefe Krater auf der Oberfläche des Asteroiden. more
Die ESA-Raumsonde Rosetta fliegt am Freitag, 5. September, an einer besonderen "Sehenswürdigkeit" vorbei: Nur etwa 800 Kilometer werden die Sonde vom Asteroiden Steins trennen. Die Begegnung bietet Forschern erstmals die Gelegenheit, einen Asteroiden dieses Typs aus der Nähe zu untersuchen. Die dafür nötigen Bilder liefert das Kamerasystem OSIRIS. more
During its 10 year cruise to comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft performs four planetary and two asteroid flybys. After the successful Mars swing-by in Feb. 2007, the second Earth swing-by took place on the evening of Nov. 13.
An important observing opportunity for OSIRIS before Rosetta arrives at 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014, is the Mars swing-by. Rosetta requires the Mars flyby to gain acceleration on a complicated trajectory. OSIRIS was actived during this close fly-by of Mars and acquired beautiful images of the red planet on 24 February.

Als der Start von ESAs Kometenmission Rosetta, ursprünglich für Januar 2003 geplant, um ein Jahr verschoben wurde, mussten die wissenschaftlichen Ziele neu ausgewählt werden. Der Komet Churyumov-Gerasimenko wurde schließlich als neues "Hauptziel" für ein Rendezvous im Jahr 2014 bestimmt, mit Vorbeiflügen an den Asteroiden (2867) Steins im September 2008 und (21) Lutetia im Juli 2010.

Am 4. Juli schlug ein Kupfer-Projektil in den Kometen Tempel 1 ein, das von der NASA-Raumsonde Deep Impact zuvor abgefeuert wurde. An der internationalen Kampagne zur Beobachtung der Folgen des Einschlags nahm auch die ESA-Raumsonde Rosetta teil, die gewissermaßen einen Logenplatz im Weltall besitzt. more

Angriff auf Tempel 1

June 29, 2005
Am 4. Juli 2005 wird die NASA-Raumsonde Deep Impact einen Kupferblock auf den Kometen 9P/ Tempel 1 schiessen. Die Kollision, die etwa 4.5 Tonnen TNT entspricht, wird von der Raumsonde selbst, aber auch von vielen Stationen auf der Erde, vom Weltraumteleskop Hubble und der Raumsonde Rosetta beobachtet werden. more

ESA-Mission Rosetta vor dem Start

Am 26. Februar 2004 um 4.16 Uhr oder 4.36 Uhr Ortszeit (8.16 Uhr oder 8.36 Uhr Mitteleuropäische Zeit) soll von Kourou in Französisch-Guayana aus die ESA-Mission Rosetta zu einer spektakulären Kometenmission starten. Die Raumsonde besteht aus zwei Teilen: dem Orbiter Rosetta und einem integrierten Landegerät, das erst vor wenigen Tagen Philae getauft wurde.
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