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These close-up photos of a comet from the Rosetta-Philae mission will touch your soul

European Space Agency
Comet 67P as seen by the satellite Rosetta from 32 kilometers away.
  • Zachary M. Seward
By Zachary M. Seward

Co-founder and CEO of Quartz

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

It took 12 years for the Rosetta spacecraft to reach comet 67P more than 300 million miles away from Earth. Now we can enjoy the spectacular spoils of that mission.

Rosetta’s Philae lander successfully touched down on the comet’s surface, a cosmic first, on Nov. 12. Philae spent more than two days conducting experiments before its solar-powered battery ran out of juice. The images here were taken by Rosetta and Philae before and after the comet landing. They depict a previously unexplored part of the universe, the true revelations from which are yet to be revealed.

These images by the European Space Agency are used under a Creative Commons license. See more on the ESA’s Flickr account.

European Space Agency
Selfie of Rosetta with the comet in the background.
European Space Agency
The comet seen from 28.5 km away. How those craters got there is still debated.
European Space Agency
Philae’s intended landing site on the comet can be seen at the top of this image.
European Space Agency
This is a composite of the first two photographs ever taken from the surface of a comet.
European Space Agency
“The comet is extremely dark—blacker than coal,” so these images have been brightened to reveal the comet’s surface.
European Space Agency
A “beauty shot” taken from 10 km away from the comet.
European Space Agency
This montage was captured about 10 km away from the comet’s center.

This animation details Rosetta’s 12-year journey through space, including three slingshots around Earth in order to build up speed:

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