This past weekend, the Rosetta spacecraft passed within just 3.7 miles (6 km) of the surface of Comet 67P. The images it sent back show the surface of this alien world in extraordinary detail, including some features never seen before.

This four-image montage was taken by Rosetta on February 14 during its first dedicated close flyby. Taken at a distance of 22 miles (35 km), the scale is 3.0 m/pixel with the montage measuring 3.8 miles (6.1 km) across.

This gorgeous four-image mosaic was taken from a distance of 5.5 miles (8.9 km). The scale is 0.76 m/pixel, and the scene measures 0.83 by 0.85 miles (1.35 x 1.37 km). So the rocks and boulders you see here measure just a few meters across.

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The photo (above) hones in on the features of the Imhotep region of the comet, which is on its large lobe. This is the first time ESA mission scientists have seen contrasting terrain quite like this. Check out the long, layered and fractured exposed surface at the lower left. Towards the center there appears to be the faint outline of raised circular objects with smooth floors while a batch of angular blocks can be seen jutting out from beneath the surface.

This shot, measuring 1.1 miles (1.8 km) across, was taken from a distance of 7.8 miles (12.6 km).

This shot of Comet 67P was taken at a distance of (31.6 km).

The ESA has made all 16 frames available, which you can download as a zip file here.

[ ESA ]

All images: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0