Rosetta's Amazing 10-Year Space Journey

More than a decade ago, the European Space Agency launched an orbiter named Rosetta, bound on a circuitous voyage to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. In the years since, Rosetta has been drawn in and flung along by multiple gravity assist maneuvers, visiting the Earth three times and making observations of the Moon, Mars, and several asteroids and comets. In January of this year, after 31 months of hibernation, Rosetta re-awoke, nearing comet 67P. Recently, it approached to within 100 km of the comet, entering orbit and preparing to send a lander to the surface. The lander, named Philae, will be deployed in November, securing itself to the comet with harpoons and drills to prevent it from bouncing away in the weak gravity. The lander and orbiter are then scheduled to ride along, escorting the comet on its upcoming close approach to the Sun next August, all the while sending imagery and data home to be combined with Earth-based observations. Gathered here are some snapshots of Rosetta's incredible trip so far.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Ameer Alhalbi / AFP / Getty

    In Syria: More Than Five Years of War

    For more than five years now, Syrians have endured the loss and hardship caused by a protracted civil war.

  • João Castellano

    The Other Beaches of Brazil

    While wealthier sunbathers may opt for Ipanema and Copacabana, there exists another coastline checkered with picnics of roasted chicken and “farofa.”

  • Evaristo Sa / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: 5/21-5/27

    Estonia’s triplet Olympic Marathoners, protests in France, U.S. special operations forces in Syria, the National Spelling Bee in Maryland, a thousand Indian Runner ducks in a South African vineyard, and much more.

  • Jean Chung / Getty

    Hiroshima Today

    Images and portraits from present-day Hiroshima

Join the Discussion