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Lots of cool images! The science team running Rosetta’s high resolution camera have finally made available to the public the camera’s large archive of images.
The images cover the period 20 June 2014 – 16 September 2014, corresponding to Rosetta’s approach to the comet, arrival, and insertion into orbit.
In exchange for creating and running the mission, the scientists had been given a 12 month period in which these hi-res images belonged entirely to them. This gave them the chance to use them to publish papers documenting their discoveries. While this is a reasonable arrangement — used by most planetary missions in some manner to reward the scientists who made the mission possible — with Rosetta the hi-res images were kept so close to the vest that practically none have been seen, until now. Moreover, this release is very late, anywhere from 15 to 18 months after the images were taken, not 12.
Most other planetary missions make sure that at least some images are released as the mission proceeds, since the images were paid for by the public. The European Space Agency should take a look at its future policies for publicly-funded missions to make sure the public gets better access in the future.