A stunning new video shows what it's like to fly past a comet tumbling through space

ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM — CC BY-SA IGO 3.0. Edit by Jason MajorA photo of Comet 67P/Churyumov — Gerasimenko, as seen by the Rosetta spacecraft on February 6, 2015.
  • A comet known as Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was visited by the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft for two years.
  • The agency released a new batch of photos of the comet in March.
  • A fan of the spacecraft animated some of those images into a stunning new timelapse video of Rosetta’s view as it flew past the comet.
  • The movie shows dust flying around Comet 67P as it tumbles against a field of stars.

In August 2014, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft pulled up to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and studied the gritty, duck-shaped object for 2 years.

Today the ESA continues to publish new images taken by the probe, and it March it released a fresh batch of data.

Many of Rosetta’s photos were taken in sequence – so Twitter user “landru79” stacked and stitched the pictures into a stunning new timelapse movie, posted Monday.

“Amazing scene from #comet #67P,” the ESA tweeted about landru79’s work.

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:

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.

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