Science Art: First view of Earth as Rosetta approaches home

Click to embiggen

This is a different way of looking at planet Earth. It’s an image from the ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft. The sliver of land you see on that crescent is the South Pole. The camera, suitably enough, is named OSIRIS – the Rosetta Orbiter Imaging System. Rosetta isn’t meant for translations between dead languages, though. It’s designed to orbit a comet and drop a lander on the its icy surface.

On November 13th, the ship had its second “Earth swing-by” on its way out past Mars and the asteroid belt. It’s going to spend two years with the comet once they rendezvous… in the year 2014. The swing-bys are calculated to give the ship a bit of a boost on its way out to its meeting. It won’t be this close to home again until its final return in December 2015.

Here the ship is looking at where it came from. Trust the Europeans to get all artsy with their chiaroscuro and perspective and composition and all.