Photo: ESA. Rosetta’s OSIRIS wide-angle camera captured this image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at 02:17 GMT from an altitude of about 15.5 km above the surface during the spacecraft’s final descent on 30 September. The image scale is about 1.56 m/pixel and the image measures about 3.2 km across.

The European Space Operations Centre received the final transmission from Rosetta at 07:19 September 30, ET. After two years of exploring a distant comet, the spacecraft crashed just a few kilometres from where its lander Philae is lodged in a deep crevice. Since it was not designed for landing the craft had no chance of survival.

Rosetta reached comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on August 6, 2014, and made in total a nearly 8 billion-kilometre journey in space.

“The mission has spanned entire careers, and the data returned will keep generations of scientist busy for decades to come.” noted Alvaro Giménez, ESA’s Director of Science.

Over its lifespan, Rosetta gathered valuable clues about the origins of the solar system and life on Earth. Key discoveries include the finding of molecular oxygen and nitrogen, and water with a different ‘flavour’ to that in Earth’s oceans.

Rosetta was an ESA mission with contributions from its Member States and NASA. Rosetta’s Philae lander was provided by a consortium led by DLR, MPS, CNES and ASI. Rosetta was the first mission in history to rendezvous with a comet and escort it as they orbited the Sun together. It was also the first to deploy a lander to a comet’s surface, and later end its mission in a controlled impact on the comet.

By studying the gas, dust and structure of the nucleus and organic materials associated with the comet, via both remote and in situ observations, the Rosetta mission is a key to unlocking the history and evolution of our Solar System

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