A trio of the closest NAVCAM images of Comet 67P-Churyumov Gerasimenko is featured as our ESA Space Science Image of the Week.
During the last few weeks of its mission at Comet 67P/C–G, the Rosetta spacecraft ventured closer than it had ever been to the surface of the nucleus. Eventually, it came to rest on the small lobe of the comet in a daring descent on 30 September 2016. No navigation images were taken during the descent; the last five NAVCAM images were taken several hours earlier, between about 20 and 17 km from the comet centre.
This montage features the three closest images of the comet’s surface taken by Rosetta’s navigation camera – acquired in the first half of September.
The left image in the composite (also shown below) was taken on 8 September, some 2.6 from the comet surface.
The image shows a portion of the large comet lobe, portraying the boundary between the Ash and Seth regions. A context view is provided in the image on the right.
This view reveals the dust-covered terrains of Ash in the lower right part of the frame, declining towards Seth in the upper left, where part of one of the many round features present in this region is visible.
The central frame in the composite (also shown below) was taken on 14 September, about 2.6 km from the comet surface.
This image provides a detailed view of small and large boulders scattered in the Anubis region, which is also located on the large comet lobe and separated by a scarp from Seth. A context view is provided in the image on the right.
On the right in the composite (and shown below), an image from 11 September shows another view of the Seth region.
Taken about 3.5 km from the comet surface, the view reveals a terrace casting dramatic shadows on the underlying terrain, covered in dust and boulders. A context view is provided in the image on the right.
Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko is now moving along the part of its orbit that is farthest from the Sun, in the outer Solar System, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Today, it is over 600 million km from the Sun and over 740 million km from Earth.
All images from Rosetta’s navigation camera are available online via the Archive Image Browser.
The three original NAVCAM images are provided below.