Rosetta space probe sends last photo before striking comet to complete its mission

Here's the last image from Europe's space probe Rosetta, taken 50m from the surface of 67P.

Rosetta's last image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, taken shortly before impact, at an estimated altitude of 51 m above the surface.

The image was taken with the OSIRIS wide-angle camera on 30 September.

The image scale is about 5 mm/pixel and the image measures about 2.4 m across.

The two-year mission was a success, reports the BBC, and the scientists wanted it to go out in style rather than wait years for it to return to the solar system's sunnier climes, by which time it would likely be nonfunctional or obsolete anyway: "It's like one of those 60s rock bands; we don't want to have a rubbish comeback tour. We'd rather go out now in true rock'n'roll style."

It got some great shots on the way down. It's a big comet!

"I can announce full success of this historic descent of Rosetta towards Comet 67P," said European Space Agency mission manager Patrick Martin.

"Farewell Rosetta; you've done the job. That was space science at its best."

Scientists expect all the data gathered at 67P in the past two years to keep them busy for decades to come.

The loss of signal, when it happened, was greeted by muted cheers and handshakes – not too surprising given the bittersweet nature of the occasion.

Some of the scientists watching on here in Darmstadt have spent the better part of 30 years on this project.

Here's some of Rosetta's greatest hits: