After 12 years exploring space, the Rosetta spacecraft had one last mission to accomplish – crash-land into a comet. The space probe spent the last two years orbiting Comet 67P AKA Churyumov–Gerasimenko. However, after observing and scanning every inch of the comet, Rosetta was about to run out of juice. The spacecraft is solar-powered and with it in the orbit of the comet, the probe would not last since 67P is heading back out toward Jupiter. Instead of just letting the spacecraft become a zombie probe aimlessly wandering in the cosmos, they would use the last moments of the probe’s life to really get to know the comet. On Friday, Rosetta crash-landed into Churyumov–Gerasimenko.
Traveling at two miles per hour, Rosetta kamikazed into the comet’s surface, but not before some spectacular photos were taken.
Shot 9.5 miles with the wide-angle camera of the head of 67P, shows the 2.5-mile-wide comet.
Photo from 7.2 miles from 67P, which was first observed in 1969.
Only 5.5 miles from the comet that circles the sun every 6.5 years between the orbits of Earth and Jupiter.
The spacecraft makes its final descent and is only 3.6 miles away. The spacecraft had learned nearly all it could about the comet from its magnetic field to its water jets.
Rosetta snapped one last photo roughly a half a mile away from the comet at 7:19 a.m. ET. on September 30 before crash-landing into Churyumov–Gerasimenko.
The 1.46 billion mission where Rosetta traveled 4 billion miles comes to a close with a bang.
Here’s the probe taking a photo of its own shadow on the comet.
RIP Rosetta, thanks for all the cool pics and science.