We’ve put robots on both the moon and mars, but scientists have never tried to soft-land a robot on a comet–until now. In this episode of The Countdown, we cover everything you need to know about the European Space Agency’s groundbreaking Rosetta mission.
It’s summer in the northern hemisphere of a small, damp, planet orbiting a middle-aged star in a spiral galaxy of matter enjoying a brief heyday before colliding with another galaxy in some 4 billion orbits of the same small, damp, planet.
What happens when you make a low-level flyby of a cometary nucleus? You get jaw-dropping images. The above 2-shot mosaic of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was taken by ESA’s Rosetta orbiter at an effective altitude of just 19.9 kilometers.
It is not enough to see the ugliness of 2014 overcome by the grind of time and the ball drop of New Year’s Eve. We should want the exhausting and terrible year to be overcome by memories of 2014′s hope, love and beauty, just as in this Baroque era painting by French artist Simon Vouet.
Probably not, but just possibly yes. One of the reasons that the search for life elsewhere in the universe is so exciting is that it would take only one chance discovery, one lucky break, for all the walls to come tumbling down.
Over the coming month the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta mission will fire its main engines no less than eight times to tweak its interplanetary intercept course with Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko; eventually sidling up to the 4 kilometer wide cometary nucleus at about 7.9 meters per second in early August.
As the European Space Agency’s Philae lander bounced and settled onto the surface of comet 67P/C-G’s crumbly nucleus it wasn’t just space exploration, it was time travel.
After 10 years of flying through space, the Rosetta spacecraft arrives at its target [Infographic]
We live on a spinning and orbiting world, but we don't usually think about our other, greater motions through the cosmos—maybe we should
Scientific discoveries across all fields just keep coming and coming. Here’s a small assortment of goodies from the past couple of weeks.
The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft came out of a three-year hibernation period this winter and is set to attempt a soft-landing on 67P-Churyumov–Gerasimenko in November
Hubble Space Telescope catches the details of a complex cometary breakup as it approaches the sun
A stunning library of comet close-ups
On November 12th 2014 the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission will eject the small robotic lander Philae on a trajectory that should take it down to the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (or 67P/C-P for short).
El 12 de noviembre del 2014, la misión Rosetta de la Agencia Espacial Europea expulsará el pequeño robot explorador Philae en una trayectoria que deberá llevarlo a la superficie del cometa 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko (o 67P / CP).