Rosetta’s last image

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Rosetta's last image

The Rosetta mission has ended. The spacecraft worked up until it landed on the comet’s surface. The image on the right was the last image, taken from about 167 feet away with a resolution capable of seeing objects less than a quarter of an inch across.

You can see a nice collection of approach images here.


  • Steve Earle

    I was surprised that they didn’t try and soft land it instead of a high speed impact. I assume they are getting more data from an impact, but it would have been neat if they had been able to maintain contact after a soft-landing.

    IIRC it has been done twice before (soft landings of spacecraft not designed for that), but I can’t remember which missions did this.

  • Steve Earle: The impact was not high speed. They landed softly. They purposely turned off the instruments just before contact in order to obey absurd planetary protection regulations established by the UN and Europe.

  • Steve Earle

    Thanks Bob, I had assumed it was an impact since they talked about loss of signal.

    So according to the UN and EU it’s OK to leave the probe(s) on the comet, but not to transmit data from the same place?

    Absurd is right!

    BTW, checked on Wikipedia, it was the NEAR-Shoemaker spaceprobe that soft-landed on asteroid Eros and continued to transmit data for 16 days. Nice work.

    And Hayabusa also soft-landed (twice!) on asteroid Itokawa, but I believe it was designed to do that unlike NEAR.

  • Gealon

    Yeah Steve, I’ve been railing about their idiotic choice to shut down the spacecraft on touch down in, I think, three of the Rosetta updates now. In one of my (I won’t call them rants) expeditions into logic, I went into detail about how easy it would be, not only for them to land it, but for them to obey that ridiculous rule. Basically all they had to do was schedule two additional thruster firings and amend their software patch, one firing just before touchdown to kill the spacecraft velocity and the second for when the IMU’s (Inertial measurement units) sense the actual impact. The second firing would be in the downward direction to keep the craft from bouncing. Then, even if the solar arrays were damaged, the craft could still make observations using the power left in it’s batteries.

    And to comply with their “No rogue radios in space” idiocy, just amend the software patch to deactivate the craft’s transmitters after a computer restart. This way, after the batteries have been depleted, if they are somehow charged again by the solar arrays, damaged or not, the craft would not transmit, it would simply sit there, waiting for instructions. But as I said before, to expect logic from bureaucrats is it’s self illogical.

    I do want to say to you Bob, I was so happy to hear you agreeing with me on the John Batchelor program. Until then there hadn’t been any follow-up comments to my little speeches, hence why in the last one why I sounded rather salty. Who knows, maybe I’m just letting my ego run away in thinking you were, or we were just of the same opinion the whole time and my comments were never read. In either case I’m we’re of the same mind in that it’s just plain idiotic to throw away a still working scientific instrument when more can be learned by just a few hour’s more operation.

  • Gealon: I hadn’t commented here because you had said it so well. When I had a chance to comment on Batchelor, as well as the Space Show, I made it very clear where I stand, which agrees with you whole-heartedly on this matter.

  • PeterF

    So, they “crashed” it onto another solar system object. Then they turned it off, thereby abandoning it. Abandoned property is fair game for salvage. Is it possible to reactivate the device from another transmitter?

  • Gealon

    Well thank you Bob, I’m glad to know that now.

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