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Check Out These Incredible Images Of A Comet’s Surface

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Comet 67PThe Philae lander, which made history last week by becoming the first man made object to set down on a comet (now the seventh celestial body humankind has touched), may have just gone into sleep mode for an indeterminate amount of time, but that doesn’t mean the mission was a wash. Even before launching the lander, the Rosetta probe was broadcast images back to Earth, and now the European Space Agency (ESA) has released some of these, and they’re stunning.

In the weeks leading up to unleashing Philae, Rosetta maintained an orbit around Comet 69P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. While that is a rather impressive feat on its own, it was able to send back a number of images of the surface, giving us our best look ever at what a comet looks like on the ground level. The pictures show a rocky, craggy landscape that looks barren and desolate, but also beautiful in high contrast black and white.

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Leave Your Permanent Mark On Space By Naming This Historic Site

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RosettaHave you always wanted to leave your mark on outer space but didn’t know how? If you’re anything like us, you spend a lot of time in a dark room (it’s like we live in caves scattered around the country), scouring the Internet, and are hardly any kind of astronaut material (I shudder to think what astronaut training would do to my questionably shaped body, I imagine I would wind up looking like Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd in Spies Like Us). But now none of that matters, and you can help named the landing site for the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission. But you better hurry, because the competition ends today.

The Philae lander is scheduled to set down on Comet 69P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in the middle of next month on November 12. This will mark the first soft landing on a comet ever by a manmade object, which is pretty memorable, and will, inevitably, lead to more and more Armageddon style adventures in real life. Right now the location is designated Site J, which is hardly befitting of such a momentous occurrence, so ESA and their mission partners want your help in coming up with a better moniker.

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Rosetta Spacecraft Sends Back Stunning Close-Up Photos Of A Comet

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RosettaYou don’t hear the phrase “scientific Disneyland” all that often, at least not in my line of work, but that is how one observer described the new close-up photos of a comet that just arrived courtesy of Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft.

Rosetta, launched in 2004, recently arrived at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which is a mouthful—I bet his friends just call him 67P—and almost immediately started sending back incredible pictures. This is a meeting that was more than a decade in the making. Taken at a distance f roughly 81 miles away, the photos show off what scientists are calling the “neck,” “head,” “body,” and “head of the dirty snowball” of the deep space projectile, all in incredible detail.

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Comet-Chasing Spacecraft Closes In

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Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko

Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko

After waking up in January, the European Space Agency’s spacecraft Rosetta is nearing its holy grail: a comet with the somewhat cumbersome name of 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

The journey has been a long one; Rosetta started its pursuit of the comet back in 2004. You know what they say about perseverance — apparently, that’s the way to catch a comet. Since then, it’s traveled over six billion kilometers, circled the sun five times, and gotten three essential gravity boosts to put it on the right orbital path. So, are we there yet? Not quite. Rosetta has fewer than 300 miles to go, and on August 6, the long wait will be over. Among other things, that means space enthusiasts have only two more days to enter the “are we there yet?” competition.