Pictures of Spacecraft
The Philae lander took this photo with its ÇIVA imager just after separating from the Rosetta orbiter, with about 10 meters of empty space between them. The photo includes most of one of Rosetta's solar panels, as well as some dust motes on ÇIVA's optics (producing large circles). This photo has been modified from the original to correct for an incorrect conversion from a higher bit depth to 8-bit mode.
This set of images shows the Philae lander falling away from Rosetta from 10:24 to 14:24 on November 12, 2014, in images taken an hour apart, beginning about two hours after the spacecraft separated at 08:35.
The sharp-eyed OSIRIS camera on the Rosetta orbiter snapped numerous images of Philae as it descended toward its touchdown on the comet on November 12 at 15:34 UTC. Images documented the spacecraft rotating, and also saw evidence of the lander's touchdown on the comet surface. One final image, captured 9 minutes after the landing, sees the spacecraft bright against the shadowed surface, heading to the east on its first bounce.
This animation shows the Philae lander falling away from Rosetta from 10:24 to 14:24 on November 12, 2014, in images taken an hour apart, beginning about two hours after the spacecraft separated at 08:35.
This amazing photo documents the successful separation of the Philae lander from the Rosetta orbiter. More importantly, it shows that all three lander feet, the ROLIS descent camera boom, and the two CONSERT antennae all deployed successfully.
Philae has 10 instruments:
APXS: Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer, for studying elemental composition
CIVA: Comet Nucleus Infrared and Visible Analyser, six black-and-white cameras for panoramic imaging
CONSERT: COmet Nucleus Sounding Experiment by Radiowave Transmission, for studying comet interior
COSAC: The COmetary SAmpling and Composition, an evolved gas analyzer for identifying organic molecules
Ptolemy: an evolved gas analyzer for measuring isotopes of light elements
MUPUS: MUlti-PUrpose Sensors for Surface and Sub-Surface Science, for studying comet physical properties
ROLIS: Rosetta Lander Imaging System, will provide context images of landing site
ROMAP: Rosetta Lander Magnetometer and Plasma Monitor, for studying the magnetic field and plasma environment of the comet
SD2: Sampling, drilling and distribution subsystem, can drill to 23 centimeters depth
SESAME: Surface Electric Sounding and Acoustic Monitoring Experiment, for studying comet physical properties
The Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, is seen on launch Pad-0A during sunrise, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014, at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Two days later, the vehicles were destroyed in an explosion soon after liftoff. However, on several other occasions similar rockets flew successfully, and hopeful pre-launch moments like this one will be repeated many times.
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 16 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.
In 2016, The Planetary Society’s LightSail program will take the technology a step further.