This image shows the most recent observations of the 2-mile-wide (4-kilometer-wide) comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which is the upcoming target of the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission. Rosetta is expected to rendezvous with the comet in August 2014.
The image was taken on Oct. 5, 2013, by the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory in Chile. The comet was around 300 million miles (500 million kilometers) from Earth at the time. (It then passed behind the sun and out of view from Earth's perspective).
Rosetta is a mission of the European Space Agency, Paris, with contributions from its member states and NASA. Rosetta's Philae lander is provided by a consortium led by the German Aerospace Center, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, the French National Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the U.S. contribution to the Rosetta mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Microwave Instrument for the Rosetta Orbiter was built at JPL, and JPL is home to its principal investigator, Samuel Gulkis. The Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, developed the Rosetta orbiter's Ion and Electron Sensor (IES) and is home to its principal investigator, James Burch. The Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colo., developed the Alice instrument and is home to its principal investigator, Alan Stern.
More information about Rosetta is available online at www.esa.int/rosetta and http://rosetta.jpl.nasa.gov.
More information on the image is available at http://www.esa.int/spaceinimages/Images/2014/01/Comet_67P_CG_on_5_Oct_2013.