Animation showing Rosetta orbiting comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and scanning its surface to make scientific measurements. The colours of the beams and their shape on the surface represent two different instruments imaging and analysing the comet.
The Rosetta orbiter has a total of 11 instruments to study the characteristics and environment of the comet. Rosetta will take images of the comet at a variety of different wavelengths, will make measurements of its gravity, mass, density, internal structure, shape, and rotation, and will assess the properties its gaseous, dust-laden atmosphere, or coma. It will also probe the surrounding plasma environment and analyse how it interacts with the solar wind.
Rosetta also carries a small lander, Philae, which will descend to the surface of the comet and make in situ measurements using its suite of 10 instruments.
The animation is not to scale; comet 67P/CG is approximately 4 km wide and Rosetta is 32 m across including its solar arrays. It will conduct its scientific investigations at a range of altitudes.