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Another legacy of ROSETTA – Change within ESA..?

ESA has released another gorgeouus mosaic of four navcam images of comet 67P. If you haven’t seen it, here it is…


See? Told you it was gorgeous! And with a bit of “work” this is what I transformed that image into…


Really love that view of the comet, we can see lots of detail on the neck and across its “back”.

That, as I said, is a mosaic of navcam images. Unknown to many people, this isn’t actually the only camera ROSETTA is carrying and using to photograph the comet. ROSETTA also carries “OSIRIS” cameras, which are much higher spec and have been taking photographs of features on the comet’s surface with unbelievably high resolution. Unfortunately, only a handful of those images have been released, because the OSIRIS team has decided to keep them for themselves, which I think is a disgrace, for reasons I’ve outlined here in detail many times. I have had a lot of support for my stance on this – many people feel we should be seeing images taken by the OSIRIS cameras – but I’ve had some criticism and scolding too, some of it very personal and angry. But that’s ok, I’m a big boy, I can take it, and I know I’m only saying what many, many other people are thinking and feeling but dare not say, for reasons of their own. And also, obviously, when you write a public blog expressing your views then it’s perfectly fine for others to challenge or criticise those views, freedom of speech and all that.

But it seems I am not alone in my feelings towards the OSIRIS team. Another high profile figure in the space community has come out this week and criticised them and their approach. Who? Who is this brave person?

Only Jean-Jacques Dordain, that’s who!



Yes, the boss of ESA, the guy at the top, is hacked off with the OSIRIS team too. So you see, it’s not just me, or a few greedy image processors in “the space community” who think this is wrong. The guy who sits at the very top of ESA thinks so too.

Here’s what he had to say, taken from a characteristically excellent BBC report by Jonathan Amos

Even I’ve tried to get more data,” Mr Dordain said. “I might be the DG but I’m also a fan of Rosetta and [its lander] Philae. It’s a problem; I don’t deny it’s a problem. But it’s a very difficult problem, too,”

Yes, you read that correctly. The Director General of the European Space Agency isn’t able to see the pictures being taken by the OSIRIS team.

And if anyone out there, anyone thinks that’s acceptable, then they’re living on another planet, seriously.

Mr Dordain goes on to say…

Maybe what we should do is distinguish better between data that would be considered absolutely key to making scientific discoveries and can be kept under wraps before publication [in journals], and the data that can be released to the public much sooner.”

…which is EXACTLY what I’ve been saying here for MONTHS!!! It is just not possible to believe that every single image taken by the OSIRIS team is SO ground-breaking, SO paradigm-shifting, SO revolutionary that they all have to be kept under lock and key, that’s just bloody ridiculous. It’s simply a matter of attitude, arrogance and sheer bloody minded stubbornness.

For example, when the ESA team released its latest navcam mosaic, I heard that the OSIRIS team had actually released a new image too! Praise be!! What would it show? I wondered… the inside of one of the gas and dust vents? Rocks caught in the act of falling down a slope?

Nope…it was just an old image, from last NOVEMBER, a wide angle shot showing the comet’s increase in activity.


Now that’s very pretty, very striking in its own way, all those jets and plumes and all, but let’s be honest. When you think about all they could have shown us, including those close up images already shown at science conferences, that blurry, wide angle, low resolution image is another two fingers stuck up at everyone asking to see what OSIRIS is really capable of – including ESA’s own Director General – isn’t it?

Ah, whatever. Let them get on with it. History will be their judge. In the meantime, let’s hope that the DG is so frustrated by being treated like the rest of us that he really looks at this issue and learns lessons from it which will be taken onboard for future missions, including, and especially, ExoMars. For now, here’s that last image blasted to make it look even more dramatic…


More ROSETTA navcam loveliness soon, I’m sure!


One Response

  1. […] nur um Navigation geht. Auch ein Rosetta-Paper, allerdings nur zur Eichung eines Instruments, und die üblichen Fragen … [18:50 MEZ – […]

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