Monday 30 December 2013
What happened at the birth of the solar system, how life came to earth? Maybe white “Rosetta” soon reply. The spacecraft, one of the most spectacular operations of the European space, is to visit a comet and the first time to settle a research robot on such a celestial body.
its ambitious “Rosetta” mission enters the European Space Agency’s new territory. Never has swung into orbit around a comet a research probe, and never was a lander exposed to such a leftover from the formation of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago. This is the “Rosetta” mission “one of the most complex and demanding far at all,” the ESA described before their planned in Autumn “Riding the Comet”.
The destination of “Rosetta” is the comet 67P/Tschurjumov-Gerasimenko – a cosmic boulders with four kilometers in diameter, which orbits the sun once every 6.45 years. Like its countless cousins, he is considered an important witness the primordial solar system. In addition, researchers believe that some of the water on Earth by cometary impacts comes from – and probably many organic molecules, which have played a key role in the emergence of life
No wonder then that scientists have some burning questions to comets. How are their nuclei chemically and mineralogically composed? Which thermal, electrical and magnetic properties do they have? And how exactly caused the gas tails form the comet approaching the sun? Questions to answer “Rosetta” and its lander “Philae”.
start in March 2004
Whether the Mission brings the expected scientific findings, decided in the new year. The first important date for the fate of “Rosetta” is the 20th January: On this day, which was launched in March 2004, almost two meters by two meters wide probe is 800 million km from the Earth to wake up from a “deep sleep” phase, in which they had been transferred in June 2011 to save energy. Then sets the reactivated “Rosetta” continued their flight to Tschurjumov-Gerasimenko. When they reach the comet is in August.
Then begins a series of tricky maneuvers: The controlled from ESOC in Darmstadt probe to pivot into orbit and initially map the surface of the comet. In November, to the land of robots put “Philae” on the comet’s surface – controlled way by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Cologne. If “Philae” touched the comet’s surface, a harpoon is fired, which drills into the ground – so that the comet lander will not be thrown back into space
nearest point to sun in August 2015
While the “Rosetta” Mother probe the comet orbits further, “Philae” will examine the core of Tschurjumov-Gerasimenko and make holes first. Together with his earthly companions the comet is then steadily approaching in the next few months the sun to reach closest to the Sun in August 2015. In this case, the comet is determined by the sun’s heat gradually active. What exactly this happened with the chunks of dust and ice, the gauges of “Rosetta” and “Philae” to record.
Runs the “Rosetta” mission as planned, it could set a milestone in the study of comets. Incidentally, as their namesake in archeology: Named the ESA probe of the Egyptian city of Rashid (Rosetta). There the famous stone was found in 1799 by Rosetta, whose inscriptions together with those on an obelisk from Philae the city allowed the deciphering of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.