Emily Lakdawalla • Mar 27, 2014
Comet spotted! Rosetta's first sight of Churymov-Gerasimenko since wakeup
Rosetta is doing the spacecraft equivalent of yawning and stretching after its long sleep, and last week the spacecraft rubbed its proverbial eyes and blinked a few times, squinting at its distant target. Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko is still five million kilometers away and less than a pixel across to even Rosetta's highest-resolution cameras. Still: there it is!
No, it's not the bright smudge in the picture; that's a globular star cluster, M107. Here's a Narrow-Angle Camera view, corresponding to the rectangle in the middle:
Just a dot! But a very important dot. Unlike all the other dots in the image, this one will grow and grow over the coming months.
What's going on with Rosetta right now? The cameras -- more formally known as the OSIRIS instrument -- are just two of a great many individual instruments being turned on and put through their paces this month. One of the most important events comes tomorrow, according to a tweet from ESA Operations this morning:
Command to wake lander @Philae2014 was sent last week, will be executed on board @ESA_Rosetta tomorrow at 07:00CET pic.twitter.com/0ugGMYHRdL— ESA Operations (@esaoperations) March 27, 2014
One note about the image above: it's not actually Rosetta's first image of the comet, just the first one since hibernation. Rosetta took its first image before entering hibernation, two years ago yesterday.
For more details about Rosetta's wakeup and rendezvous plans, see my last blog entry on that, and to follow the details of the commissioning phase, read the Rosetta blog.
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