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Rosetta captures stunning image of Earth ahead of final flyby

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Image of the Earth acquired with the OSIRIS narrow-angle camera obboard the Rosetta spacecraft from a distance of 633 000 km. Image credit: ESA

PARIS (BNS): As comet chaser Rosetta approaches Earth for its third and final flyby on Friday, the OSIRIS instrument on board the spacecraft has captured a spectacular image of our home planet.

The image was acquired with the OSIRIS narrow-angle camera from a distance of 633 000 km on Thursday at 12.28 GMT (13:28 CET), the European Space Agency said.

Three images with an orange, green, and blue filter were combined to create the magnificent image. The illuminated crescent is centered roughly around the South Pole (at the bottom of the image).

The outline of Antarctica is visible under the clouds that form the striking south-polar vortex. Pack ice in front of the coastline with its strong spectacular reflection makes for the very bright spots on the image.

The OSIRIS – Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System – is a wide-angle camera and a narrow-angle camera to obtain high-resolution images of the comet's nucleus and the asteroids that Rosetta passes on its voyage to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

The instrument will help in identifying the best landing sites for the spacecraft.

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