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Rosetta: Best Comet 67P Pictures Yet Show Sharp, Close-Up Detail

17/02/2015 11:23 GMT | Updated 17/02/2015 11:59 GMT

The European Space Agency has released the closest pictures yet of the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko -- that is, if you don’t count the ones actually taken on the surface.

The Rosetta Space Craft approached the comet at just 6km above the surface on 14 February, revealing “layered and fractured exposed surfaces” contrasted “against expanses of smooth, dust-covered terrain”.

ESA said on its website:

“As well as providing the opportunity to take close-up high-resolution images of the surface, flybys like this also allow Rosetta’s instruments to sample the innermost parts of the comet’s atmosphere, or coma, to understand the connection between the source of the observed activity and the wider coma.

The spacecraft has now begun a new phase of observations, whereby it will continue to fly past at a range of distances, typically between about 15 km and 100 km.”

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