As Philae descended towards Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko last Wednesday, the OSIRIS camera aboard the Rosetta satellite tracked its progress. The ESA has now released this stunning mosaic showing the probe as it drifted across and bounced on the surface.

These images, which chronicle a 30-minute span prior to first touchdown, were taken from a distance of 17.5 km (10.8 miles) from the comet center, or roughly 15.5 km (9.6 miles) from the surface.

From left to right, you can see the lander as it descends towards and across the comet before touchdown. The image taken just after touchdown at 15:43 GMT confirms that Philae was moving east and at a speed of about 0.5 m/s.


The lander bounced nearly a kilometer back into space before descending again and making its second, smaller bounce at 17:25 GMT. It finally settled at the edge of a cliff during its third landing at 17:32 GMT. Its precise whereabouts on the comet is still not known, but ESA scientists are still analyzing the data to find out.

Late last week, the ESA released an image showing what appears to be the shadow of a dust cloud kicked up when Philae made its first touch down.


Remarkably, it shows more than just the splotch on the surface; both Philae and its shadow can be seen in the moments just after the first bounce.

The lander was put into hibernation mode on Friday owing to its misforunate position in the shadow of a cliff. With its 60-hour battery expired, Philae was not able to collect enough sunlight to recharge itself.


With this part of the mission over, ESA scientists are now focusing on the data transmitted back to Earth while the lander was still functional.

All images credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA.