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Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

One of my favorite space images of all time: Rosetta was here

Posted By Emily Lakdawalla

31-01-2013 16:58 CST

Topics: pretty pictures, pics of spacecraft in space, Mars, Rosetta and Philae

A conversation on Twitter today reminded me of this photo, which is one of my all-time favorite space images: the view from Rosetta during its Mars flyby. I was astonished to discover that it hadn't made the transition to our redesigned website, so I'm fixing that. It's just like looking out an airplane window...except that what's outside the window is Mars. I was floored by it the first time I saw it, and you know what? It's still just as amazing.

Rosetta Was Here

CIVA / Philae / ESA Rosetta

Rosetta Was Here
This amazing view was captured by the CIVA camera on Rosetta's Philae lander just four minutes before its closest approach to Mars on February 25, 2007. The spacecraft was only 1,000 kilometers above the planet. Part of the spacecraft bus fills the view on the left side, and one of the long solar panels stretches out across the center. In the background is the globe of Mars, the view looking down on Cydonia mensae. The original photo was black-and-white; this version is colorized.

The data for this image has not yet made it to ESA's Planetary Science Archive, which is a pity. I don't know if there were any others taken by Philae during the encounter. Rosetta took plenty of its own amazing photos during the encounter, catching not only Mars but also Phobos and even Jupiter; I had a lot of fun playing with those.

There's something magical about seeing pictures of hardware on other planets. I have a special keyword for pictures like that in our image library.

See other posts from January 2013


Read more blog entries about: pretty pictures, pics of spacecraft in space, Mars, Rosetta and Philae


Bob Ware: 01/31/2013 09:22 CST


Bill Campbell: 01/31/2013 11:27 CST

Yes. Can almost hear a voice in the background saying - "This is your captain speaking, we will be landing in 7 minutes........ etc. :) great image.

stone: 02/01/2013 01:42 CST

Nicely coloured black and white image.

Andrew R Brown: 02/01/2013 08:40 CST

stone, I do believe it was a colour image to start with. That amazing image gives a great idea of what Mars would look like from a space station like the ISS. :)

stone: 02/01/2013 09:27 CST

ÇIVA –P: panoramic and stereo camera (b/w); doi: 10.1007/s11214-007-9278-z does (b/w) stand for black and white?

Emily Lakdawalla: 02/01/2013 12:20 CST

stone, you are right: it is a black and white camera. I hadn't realized that! They did do a good job, but -- shame on them for not mentioning that. Also, it's been pointed out that I didn't have my geography right; I've fixed the caption.

stone: 02/01/2013 02:20 CST

Fred pointed that out to me as an instrument PI on Philae he nows more about the lander instruments than I do.

spacescience2010: 02/03/2013 05:25 CST

I also like the CIVA Mars photograph a lot since I’m the project manager responsible for the CIVA lens on the Philae lander, development at FISBA OPTIK. The photograph proves that the lenses developed possess the desired specifications. Because of the large aperture opening of 70 degrees you can obviously also see the ROSETTA solar panel. Men J. Schmidt, Project Manger Product Development Astro and Space Programs FISBA OPTIK CH 9016 St. Gallen Switzerland

Ethan Walker: 02/03/2013 02:43 CST

I hadn't realized it was colorized either, though it's still one of my favorites. I love how the Philae lander was mounted so it could have a view while it rides out that comet, somehow it reminds me of R2-D2. Men, or Emily, do you know of any other pictures taken from philae so far?

Philip Metschan: 02/07/2013 10:43 CST

Does anyone know if we will get a similar view at the Comet itself before Philae departs. To beat an already beaten drum, they (collective science and engineering communities) need to get it together and start realizing the public outreach value of seeing hardware at destination. I truly wish we had images like this of all our spacecraft including voyager. Context is everything in understanding the reality and value of these activities. As enthusiast we can make the translation but most cannot.

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