In August 2014, the European Space Agency Rosetta spacecraft was pulled into the comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko and studied this grit-like duck-shaped object for 2 years.
Today, ESA continues to release new images of probe shots and released a new batch of data in March.
Many of Rosetta’s photos were taken in sequence – so Twitter users “landru79” stacked and stitched photos into a stunning new time-lapse movie, released on Monday.
“Amazing scene from #comet#67P”, ESA released a tweet on work on landru79.
The video clip (below) shows roughly 25 minutes of flight past Comet 67P on June 1, 2016. The scene looks like something out of a science-fiction film:
— landru79 (@landru79) April 23, 2018
In the background, a field of stars moves behind Comet 67P as it tumbles through space.
Rosetta took the photos just a few months after the roughly 2.5-mile-long comet shot out a burst of material. So in the foreground, sunlit specks of ice and dust float near a cliff that stands thousands of feet tall.
Cosmic rays also hit Rosetta’s camera sensor, causing white streaks in the series of black-and-white images.
In addition to photographing Comet 67P, Rosetta also set down a probe called Philae on the comet’s surface – though the lander rolled into a shady crevice and was never heard from again.
On September 30, 2016, the ESA purposefully crashed Rosetta into the wad of ice, rock, and dust. The robot took a final and fateful sequence of images along the way.