Now the Rosetta mission has provided an unprecedented close-up perspective. The spacecraft's images of comet 67P/Guryumov-Gerasimenko's surface reveal a rugged environment, covered with jagged rock and sharp cliffs. Now its lander, Philae, has snapped the first-ever photos from the surface of a comet.
The photos in this gallery include those first shots, as well as photos taken of the lander's descent by both Philae and Rosetta. Also included are some gorgeous images of the comet taken during Rosetta's reconnaissance flyby at 10 kilometers above the surface.
It's dark out in space, especially at the comet's current location about 278 million miles from the sun. The comet itself is blacker than coal. To highlight the features on the surface, the contrast in some of these black-and-white images has been enhanced.