Astronomy Picture of the Day
October 30, 2014

Philae's Landing Side
Philae's Landing Side

Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA and Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF for the additional process. and color.

A mosaic from the European Space Agency's (or "ESA", for short) Rosetta Spacecraft shows us the "Site J", such as the primary Landing Site on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko for the mission's Philae Lander. Rosetta is the first mission to attempt a "Soft Landing" on a Comet and this mosaic comprises two images taken by Rosetta's OSIRIS Narrow-Angle Camera on September, 14, 2014, from a distance of about 19 miles (such as approx. 30,577 Km) from the Surface of this Celestial Body.

The image scale is 1,6 feet (such as about 0,487 meters) per pixel. The red ellipse is centered on the Landing Site and is is approximately 1.600 feet (such as about 487,68 meters) in diameter. Site J is located on the smaller of the Comet's two Lobes. On November 12, the ESA - Rosetta Spacecraft will release the Philae Lander at 01:03 a.m. (PST/10:03 - CET/09:03 UTC - such as the time the signal is received on Earth). The touchdown of the Philae Lander on Site J is then expected about seven hours later, at around 08:00 a.m. (PST/17:00 - CET/16:00 UTC - Earth Received Time).

This frame (which is a crop taken from an Original ESA - Rosetta Spacecraft's b/w and NON Map-Projected image-mosaic published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 18827) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, magnified to aid the visibility of the details, Gamma corrected and then colorized - according to an educated guess (or, if you wish, an informed speculation) carried out by Dr Paolo C. Fienga - in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a human eye would actually perceive if someone were onboard the ESA - Rosetta Spacecraft and then looked outside, towards the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko) by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team. Different colors, as well as different shades of the same color, mean, among other things, the existence of different Elements (Minerals) present on the Surface of the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.

Note: it is possible (but we, as IPF, have no way to be one-hundred-percent sure of such a circumstance), that the actual luminosity of the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko - as it is in this frame - would appear, to an average human eye, a little bit lower than it has been shown (or, better yet: interpreted) here.

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