Comet 67P/C-G at 126 miles

Comet 67P/C-G at 126 miles

The image above was taken by Rosetta on August 4 from only 126 miles (234 kilometers). Unlike earlier images, this image is raw, uncropped and unprocessed. All I have done is rescale it to fit on my webpage. As they explain at the link,

As you can see, the comet is not centred in the full-frame image. This is a result of the rendezvous burn conducted the previous day, which adjusted Rosetta’s trajectory towards the comet. This effect is corrected for in the commands sent to the spacecraft after the new orbit has been determined.

The science team also notes that beginning tomorrow, the comet will be close enough that they will no longer have to provide a cropped close-up using the navigation camera and that this uncropped raw version will be sufficient.

Rendezvous and orbital insertion on Wednesday!

The next great comet?

Amateur astronomer Jason Lewis sent me an email today describing how the amateur astronomy community is abuzz with the discovery of a new comet, presently dubbed C/2012 S1, that is due to make its dive around the Sun in late November 2013 and pass closest to the Earth in January 2014 at a distance of about 37 million miles. Based on the preliminary numbers, this comet might be one of the brightest in years, almost certainly a naked eye object and visible to everyone from both the northern and southern hemispheres.

To quote the comments from one astronomy forum:
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ESA controllers buy time to solve problems on comet probe Rosetta

This ain’t good. One of the reasons ESA controllers recently put the comet probe Rosetta into hibernation for two and a half years was in order to buy time to solve a serious technical problem.

Mission managers said the hibernation will permit Rosetta to rest its four reaction wheels, two of which have shown signs of degradation. The satellite needs three to function, and one of the two problem wheels will be used only as a spare when the satellite is awakened in January 2014 in preparation for its approach to a comet.