On August 3rd, after 10 years and 6.5 billion kilometers of travel, the Rosetta spacecraft’s camera captured this stunning image of the nucleus of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Image © ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
Rosetta had approached to within 285 kilometers of of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, along gravity assist trajectories looping through interplanetary space. The curious double-lobed shape of the nucleus is revealed in amazing detail at an image resolution of 5.3 meters per pixel. About 4 kilometers across, the comet nucleus is presently just over 400 million kilometers from Earth, between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars.
After arriving on 6 August, Rosetta will follow a set of two, three-legged triangular trajectories that require a small thruster burn at each apex. The legs are about 100 km long and it will take Rosetta between three and four days to complete each one.