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Rosetta probe's last surprise: a photo of its landing site

ESA discovered that the last few packets of data it sent make up an image.
Mariella Moon, @mariella_moon
October 1, 2017
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ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA; spacecraft: ESA/ATG medialab

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Since it's been a year since Rosetta landed on the comet it orbited for a couple of years, you'd think the ESA had already decoded everything the vessel sent back before its demise. Apparently, the probe has one last surprise for all of us: a close-up photo of its final landing site. The team keeping an eye on the probe's OSIRIS camera thought they'd already downloaded all the images Rosetta took during its descent. Turns out the last photo's transmission got interrupted before it was done.

OSIRIS principal investigator Holger Sierks said they found the last few packets of data the probe sent on their server and realized that they could make up another image. While Rosetta only managed to send over half the full photo's data, the scientists were able to assemble a picture showing a patch of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko that's about 3 feet across taken from 65 feet above the surface. As you can see above, it's a bit blurry, but it still shows you what the probe's final resting place looks like.

Image: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

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