At 6:39 am EDT today, a spacecraft weighing over 2,000 kilograms (4,400 pounds) with a wingspan half that of a Boeing 747 crashed gently into a comet’s surface, following 13 hours of free-fall. These, my friends, are the last, fleeting glimpses of Comet 67P that Rosetta managed to capture before its instruments went dead.
They’re also some of the best photos humans have ever taken of the surface of a comet, period. So enjoy them—because we won’t get another mission like this for a long time.
On Rosetta’s blog this morning, the ESA also posted a series of screenshots showing the signal from the spacecraft fading into white noise at around 7:19 am EDT (it takes 40 minutes for communications to travel from Comet 67P to the Earth). No doubt, these images will come in handy when Rosetta truthers start insisting the comet landing was faked.
Fare thee well, Rosetta. Your watch is over.