Pictures of Spacecraft
The Philae lander, attached to the side of Rosetta opposite its high-gain antenna, has six micro-cameras positioned around its circumference to capture panoramic views of its landing site after it touches down: the CIVA instrument. While Philae is still attached to Rosetta, two of CIVA's cameras are able to see the solar panels -- and sometimes other things, including, in this case, the comet. Churyumov-Gerasimenko was about 50 kilometers away when the spacecraft took this photo. Two images with different exposure times were merged to bring out the sunlit details on the comet in combination with the very faintly lit backside of the spacecraft's solar panels. This image has been rotated 180 degrees from the original so that solar illumination appears to be coming from the top.
Rosetta's enormous five-paneled solar wings were tested at the European Research and Technology Centre, Noordvijk, the Netherlands, in May 2002. The spacecraft is oriented with its high-gain antenna upward and the Philae lander downward. The solar panels are steerable, able to rotate to catch the most favorable angle to the Sun.
Between August 11 and 24, the COSIMA instrument on Rosetta exposed a 1-centimeter-square target plate (left) to space to see if they could collect comet dust. Some time between August 17 and 24, the plate collected two large dust grains. More information via the ESA blog.
The box-shaped Rosetta spacecraft, fully assembled with solar panels folded at side and Philae lander attached, awaits vibration testing at the European Space Research and Technology Centre in Noordvijk, the Netherlands.
Rosetta's lander Philae is equipped with the CIVA instrument (Comet Infrared and Visible Analyser). CIVA has six microcameras used to take panoramic pictures. This artist’s impression shows Philae using CIVA to create a panoramic view of its surroundings. The comet surface is an artist’s impression.
This animation shows how the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity was positioned for taking multiple images that were combined into a self-portrait.
LightSail engineers and Cal Poly staff test the spacecraft's radio system at a Cal Poly clean room. The LightSail-A 3U CubeSat can be seen sitting on a blue pad behind the plastic curtains that form a dust-and-static free zone.
On sol 708 (August 3, 2014), Curiosity performed a series of short drives followed by MAHLI imaging of each of the wheels, to survey their condition. Here, the images have been sorted and the inter-cleat spaces numbered to make it easier to survey the locations of specific marks, tears, and punctures.
Curiosity's wheels are supported by a "rocker-bogie suspension system." Each side has two arms (a rocker and a bogie) that can pivot, connected to each other through a differential bar and pivot on top of the rover. When one rocker tilts in one direction, the linkage through the differential causes the other rocker to tilt in the opposite director, keeping the rover body relatively level even when the wheels are climbing large obstacles.
Never let it be said that Mars does not care about its robot companions.
(Mars shelters its orbiters from comet Siding Spring.)
In 2016, The Planetary Society’s LightSail program will take the technology a step further.