Austrian filmmaker Christian Stangl has created a stunning sequence of Comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P) entitled “the Comet” using some of the more than 400,000 images captured by the European Space Agency’s Rosetta space probe. The sequence is three minutes and twenty-five seconds of eerie otherworldly beauty that is a must-watch for any space enthusiast.
The Rosetta space probe was launched aboard an Ariane 5 in March 2004. Over the next six years, it performed flybys of several celestial bodies including Earth, Mars, and asteroids 2867 Šteins and 21 Lutetia.
On August 6, 2014, Rosetta began a series of maneuvers to enter an orbit around comet 67P. A month later, the spacecraft entered into a stable orbit around the comet at a distance of 30 kilometers (19 miles), becoming the first space probe to orbit a comet.
Following a period of testing, the spacecraft deployed the Philae lander to the surface of the comet on November 12, 2014. Although it performed a successful soft landing touching down safely on the comet’s surface, a power issue would see it operate for just two days. Although contact with the lander was established intermittently several months later, contact was lost for good on July 9, 2015.
The Rosetta spacecraft, however, remained in orbit around 67P for almost two years collecting valuable data, which is expected to keep researchers busy for decades to come. Among other things, Rosetta discovered complex organic molecules, considered to be the building blocks of life on the comet’s surface, and captured over 400,000 individual images.
Rosetta’s mission came to an end on September 30, 2016, with a hard-landing in the comet’s Ma’at region.