The Rosetta spacecraft releases the Philae lander onto the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Image: ESA
The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft was launched on 2 March 2004 and just over ten years later, on 6 August 2014,it arrived at its target, comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. On 12 November 2014 the Philae lander was released from the Rosetta spacecraft onto the surface of the comet. Despite a difficult landing Philae has provided valuable data about the composition and physical structure of the comet’s nucleus.
Touchdown of Philae lander on the surface of the comet’s nucleus. Image:ESA
Stunning image taken by Rosetta of comet 67P as it approaches its closest point to the Sun, known as perihelion. At this stage in its path around the Solar System the comet shows maximum activity with major outbursts of dust and volatiles. Image: ESA.