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

  • Bettmann / Getty

    Weird, Wonderful Photos From Another Era

    A grab bag of interesting, seldom-seen historic images depicting myriad people, places, and things—from epic achievements to small moments.

  • Steffen Olsen / Danish Meteorological Institute via Reuters

    Photos of the Week: Kangaroo Boxing, Royal Ascot, Moon Pool

    A hungry polar bear in Russia, Women's World Cup action in France, exuberant Raptors fans in Toronto, a “Protest Against Divisiveness” in New York, aquabike racing in Hungary, and much more.

  • USGS

    Apollo Training: When Arizona Stood In for the Moon

    Arizona’s existing geology, coupled with man-made crater fields, hosted numerous moonlike sites for Apollo astronauts to train.

  • Chan Srithaweeporn / Getty

    Photos: The Moods of Monument Valley

    A collection of images of some of the many moods of this iconic valley, from wild storms to dusky evenings to bright, sunlit panoramas