Rosetta Comet Chaser Set To Wake From 3 Year Sleep On Monday
Peter Donnell / 4 years ago
A probe was launched into space ten year ago, where it has been travelling to the far reaches of our solar system in chase of a comet. Three years ago the probe reached a point where its solar panels could no longer maintain its batteries due to its increasing distance from the sun, and at 10am GTM on Monday morning a timer on the craft will wake it from its deep sleep as it enters the final phase of its approach.
The European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe plans to circle a comet, before deploying a lander module to its surface. It will do this by approaching the surface and firing an explosive harpoon that will help it cling to the low gravity environment as the comet hurtles through space. The probe and the lander will then scan and probe the comet as it continues its journey towards and around the sun, where its expected to generate plumes of gas and dust that will measure around one million kilometres long. The comet, named 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko or “Chury” is estimated to be around 4.6bn year old and could give us an impressive insight into the early history of our solar system.
At a range of around 700m kilometres from Earth, no one has heard from the probe in three years, so things will be pretty tense over the next couple of days as the probe (hopefully) wakes up, warms up, works out its location and sends a signal back to earth. It will then take a staggering three months of work to test all the systems and prepare for the approach.
“Comets are time capsules from the origin of the solar system. It is still a big mystery exactly how the planets formed, but when you start looking at comets, you start to get an idea how it all happened,” said Matt Taylor, project scientist on Rosetta at the European Space Agency in the Netherlands. “This is difficult, but I am confident. It is going to be amazing.”
So good lucky to the team as they move into the final phases of this truly ground breaking mission, we look forward to updates on its progress and discoveries in the coming months.
Thank you Guardian for providing us with this information.
Image courtesy of Guardian.