It looks like a winter wonderland scene from an old black and white film but — don’t be fooled — what you’re seeing is real footage from the surface of the comet 67p/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. These images were captured by the European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe over the course of 25 minutes on the 1st of June, 2016, and processed by an awesome human who posted the whole thing on twitter.
— landru79 (@landru79) April 23, 2018
The raw images were made with Rosetta’s OSIRIS, or Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System. What we’re seeing in the foreground is the comet’s surface, as seen by the probe from a distance of several kilometers. In the background, you can see stars belonging to the constellation Canis Major.
What looks like snow here are actually cosmic rays (charged subatomic particles), which register as streaks of light as they hit the camera’s sensor. It’s true, however, that there is some actual snow in the footage — specks of dust and ice.
The Rosetta spacecraft and its lander, Philae, reached 67P in 2014 after a 10-year round-trip journey of four billion miles. The probe crashed into the comet’s surface in 2016.