An Update from Rosetta

We have another great video via Amy Carparelli (@AmyAmylou1993) about the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission. It explains three of the things we’ve learnt from the mission so far, and three questions that have arisen from what has been learnt.

There’s more information about the mission in Nature.

As the video points out, Rosetta is going to be crash-landed on comet 67P at the end of its mission in a year. From Nature:

Funding for the mission runs out in September 2016 — and by that time 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko will be well on its way back out into deep space, where the solar-powered orbiter will receive too little sunlight to function.

Discussions about what to do with Rosetta when that happens have continued for more than a year. Rosetta flight director Andrea Accomazzo says that, ideally, Rosetta would hibernate while the comet remains in deep space, then be resurrected when 67P again approaches the Sun in 4 or 5 years’ time. But the cold of deep space would probably damage the craft, Accomazzo says; others fear that fuel and other resources would run out. Moreover, many of the mission’s principal investigators (PIs) began their work more than 20 years ago and “there’s no point putting an old experiment with old PIs into hibernation”, jokes Kathrin Altwegg, a planetary scientist at the University of Bern.

In the meantime, the scientists are keeping busy with this fascinating project.

6 Responses to “An Update from Rosetta”

  1. Mark R. says:

    Thanks Heather, this is a nice respite from the non-stop coverage of Paris (not to say Paris shouldn’t be top-news) but this makes me ponder the universe and escape our sordid human idiocy. I think of two comets from different parts of space coming together and merging into the rubber duck. 🙂

    It is a metaphor for what we humans need to do to survive this existence: come together from insane distances, morph with unresolved hows, and simply exist and round this corner of space without bothering/hurting things or each other. And then learn more.

  2. rickflick says:

    Thanks for flagging this Heather. It’s one of the most amazing space stories ever.

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