The Rosetta spacecraft currently in space has taken a selfie of itself with comet it is supposed to monitor in the background some miles away. The European Space Agency (ESA) owned Philae lander took the picture through the Comet Infrared Visible Analyser (CIVA) on October 7, and this is preparatory to its descent to comet on November 12.
Streams of dust and gas are clearly visible as they extend from the comet in the said image, and it presents a clean image of how the comet appears close up. The Philae lander will separate from the Rosetta on November 12, and the selfie is the last image it will take before then. But it will also take another after it gets separated from Rosetta when it will do that to bid the orbiter a last farewell.
According to NASA, “CIVA, one of 10 instruments on board Philae, comprises seven micro-cameras arranged around the top of the lander, and a visible/infrared microscope imager/spectrometer.” Rosetta was launched in March 2004 but relaunched January 2014 after it had spent about 957 days in hibernation. Armed with an orbiter and lander, the Rosetta was intended to arrive at comet with the aim of studying celestial bodies up close after it lands on the comet in November, and for it to track changes in the comet as it orbits the sun.
NASA researchers intend to use the Rosetta to study comet changes as it undergoes intense radiation from the sun, and also aim to learn more the origin and evolution of the solar system and how comets have impacted the Earth by seeding water and life to it.