Space probe takes a pic and then a nap
Rosetta is an pretty cool little probe launched in 2004. The European Space Agency probe will go into orbit around the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014 and, once there, it will deploy a lander and (hopefully) sample the comet's surface.
Now, after eight years of lonely truckin', Rosetta has its target in sight and has returned the first images.
Image: Rosetta closes in on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko – click to zoomify
It might not look like much, but the images (taken by OSIRIS – Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System) required a total exposure time of 13 hours.
The plucky little craft is still more than 160 million kilometres from its final destination and, now that it has snapped its quarry, it will now shut down and wait out the rest of its journey in hibernation mode.
The spacecraft will receive a wake up call in January 2014 ready for its rendevous in July 2014. (Graphics about Rosetta and comet-type stuff below)