The European Space Agency (ESA) has released an image of Comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko which offers the highest resolution ever captured by the Rosetta satellite.
The satellite has captured the rare image during the Valentine’s Day flyby when the ESA’s probe passed just six kilometer from the ‘icy dirtball’ surface.
The image shows the view of a region at the bottom of ‘space duck’. The features down to 11cm are shown in greater detail.
As Rosetta is positioned just behind the Sun, a shadow of the satellite itself can be possibly witnessed on the surface.
Rosetta mission’s project scientist Dr Matt Taylor said, “I like it because you get this nice juxtaposition of Rosetta against the alien landscape.”
The photo’s precise location has been thoroughly worked out to be positioned at the boundary of two regions, namely Ash and Imhotep.
As the spacecraft moves closer to the Sun, 67P appears getting more and more active. In simpler terms, it is no longer possible for the Rosetta probe mission to work continuously with the same pace at the close-quarters as conducted towards the end of last year.
According to the astronomers, the job is getting complicated for the controllers of Rosetta as the gas and dust stream from the comet is producing drag on the spacecraft.
Now, the scientists are planning to sit back from the comet and make the occasional close-in approach. According to ESA, the February 14 encounter was an example of just such a manoeuvre.
Comet 67P is presently 328 million kilometer away from the Sun and is arcing inwards at a relative speed of 83,000 km per hour (23 km per second). The comet will have the closest approach to the Sun in mid-August when it will be at a distance of 186 million kilometer.