The ESA’s Rosetta comet probe has woken up to make its rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Rosetta’s mission will take 10 years to complete.
During its trip Rosetta passed by two asteroids, Lutetia and Steins. The image above shows landslide that happened on Lutetia.
When Rosetta reaches the comet, it will deploy a 220-pound (100 kilogram) lander called Philae.
Once on the comet’s surface the pair of craft will accompany the comet on its journey through the inner solar system, observing at close range how the comet changes as the Sun’s heat transforms the cold surface to a boiling gaseous mass.
Rosetta is about 500 million miles (about 800 million km) from Earth near Jupiter’s orbit. At that distance radio transmissions take 45 minutes to reach Earth and vice versa. What is fascinating is that, due to gravity, the radio signals don’t travel in a straight line back and forth.
Once Rosetta’s on-board alarm clock went off it took seven hours to warm up its star trackers, fire thrusters to slow its spin, turn on its transmitter and send a message back to Earth. And with all the advances in science the drumming monkey clock was the best we could do (just kidding, atomic clocks were used, although the monkey clock would be fabulously hilarious).
There are a lot of firsts for Rosetta, but the images from the comet as it starts out-gassing should be spectacular. I just hope Philae doesn’t land on one of the explosive vents that many comets have. We will know later this year as the comet passes by the Sun.
– Ex astris, scientia –
I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +