It’s hard to believe, but it’s true – it’s now almost a year since ROSETTA “arrived” at Comet 67P! Ok, so the actual arrival day wasn’t until early August, but by this time last year the NAVCAM images were starting to show the true shape of, and some detail on, the nucleus of Comet 67P. Take a look at how 67P looked on July 29th last year, and how it looks on the most recent NAVCAM image to be released…
What a wonderful year it’s been! Through ROSETTA’s eyes we’ve seen a comet revealed in its true glory for the first time, watched it wake up as it nears the Sun, seen jets and plumes of gas and dust bursting off it, shining in the darkness. We’ve seen its towering cliffs, deep pits and boulder-strewn plains of dusty ice, stark black and white in the harsh light of the faraway Sun. Now the comet is approaching perihelion – the closest point to the Sun in its orbit – and I’m sure ROSETTA scientists are just as intrigued as we all are to see what will happen when the comet is at its warmest. Will there be a sudden burst of activity? Will it actually split in two, along the famous crack seen on its neck?
So, a year after arriving at 67P ROSETTA is still doing incredible science, and sending back incredible images, and thanks to the ongoing and tireless work of the ROSETTA Outreach team and the the NAVCAM team, many thousands – yes, thousands! – of those images are available online for us to browse and drool over at our leisure. There is a gallery of them here, straining at the seams there are so many NAVCAM images crammed into it…!
Sadly, almost a year after ROSETTA arrived at 67 the OSIRIS team still has not released a proper batch of images, as it said it would, and as it is supposed to under the terms of its own – rather dodgy, it has to be said – agreement with ESA. I’ve written about this situation at length on this blog already, and my opinion of the OSIRIS team and their image release policy is well known, so I won’t go through all that again here now. I will, however, point out the stark contrast between the different behaviours and attitudes of the OSIRIS team and the NEW HORIZONS team.
So, as ROSETTA accompanies 67P on its plunge towards the Sun a year after catching up with it, I’d like to say a huge THANK YOU again to all the people responsible for ROSETTA’s Outreach program, and for working on and releasing the NAVCAM images which essentially *are* the mission, because without them we wouldn’t even know the probe was still doing anything.
I can’t wait to see what wonders await in the next batch of NAVCAM images!
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