Rosetta orbiting Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko and scanning its surface. 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 is taking images at a variety of wavelengths, measuring its gravity, mass, density, internal structure, shape and rotation, and assessing the properties of its gaseous, dust-laden atmosphere, or coma. It is also probing the surrounding plasma environment and analysing how it interacts with the solar wind.
Rosetta also carried a small lander, Philae, which descended to the surface on 12 November 2014 and made in situ measurements using its suite of 10 instruments.
The animation is not to scale; the comet is about 4.1 km wide and Rosetta is 32 m across including its solar wings, and it conducts scientific investigations at a range of altitudes. The comet shape is based on a true comet shape model.