In Esa Control now waiting the researchers to a sign of life of the spacecraft. It was now taken out of the energy-saving “deep sleep”. In the evening a radio signal to reach Earth. From Norbert Lossau Norbert Lossau Biography and all articles by this author
At 11:00 clock the European space probe “Rosetta” has received a wake-up call in the vastness of the universe. Since 957 days there was the probe that is on the journey to the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, in an energy-saving “deep sleep” – similar to the stand-by mode of a television
Since 8 June 2011, the control center of the European Space Agency ESA had therefore not been in contact with “Rosetta”. The radio systems have since been decommissioned.
The purpose of this sleep phase consisted of those who use few energy, which will be delivered at a great distance to the Sun by the solar cells of the probe to heat the onboard electronics. In the cold of space otherwise the risk would have been that they could suffer damage systems.
“Rosetta” sends a radio signal to Earth
Now there is anxious hours of waiting in Esa-control center in Darmstadt. It will take a few hours until the computer and the radio installation on board of “Rosetta” are ready for use again.
Esa-flight director Paolo Ferri believes this will take up about 19 clock CET. Only then could “Rosetta” can send the signal to the earth, that everything is in order.
everything goes as planned today begins the final phase of an ambitious research mission, on 2 March 2004 began with the launch of the probe at the top of an Ariane 5 rocket at Kourou spaceport in French Guiana.
In August the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko to be achieved
goal of the long journey, the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the “Rosetta” is expected to reach in August 2014.
the first time to settle on a comet “Rosetta” a land vehicle. The spectacular landing is scheduled for 11 November 21014 provided. “Rosetta” will then issue the lander equipped with a mini-lab, “Philae” on the comet.
He is to explore the exact chemical composition of the comet’s surface and transmit the measured data to “Rosetta”. The researchers expect a mix of rock, ice and dust.
“The first real rendezvous”
What fascinates scientists in the analysis of this matter, is their “cosmic virginity”. It is as if to primordial matter at the beginning of our solar system.
This was formed about 4.6 billion years ago. From this primordial matter that planets are formed in our solar system. Comets allow so to speak a glance into the nursery of our planetary system.
“This is the first real rendezvous with a comet,” says Ferri. Although his comets have been visited more often by probes, but a soft landing there had never been.
If the comet’s surface hard or soft?
However: The Japanese probe “Hayabusa” was back in 2005 on the asteroid Itokawa and has five years later brought back soil samples thereof for the earth
This landing of “Philae” is the most difficult phase of the mission. “We do not know whether the surface of the comet is soft or hard,” says geophysicist Stephen, who heads the project “Philae” at the German Aerospace Center (DLR).
A crash landing is judged not to be feared because of on the ground 100-pound lander weighs less than one kilogram the comet. The attraction of the small celestial body is just very low.
pyrotechnics on the comet
But there is another danger threatens. If the surface of the comet should be very easy, for example, similar powder snow, the probe could sink into the ground.
To still be able to gain a firm hold is “Philae” equipped with two harpoons that can be shot to anchor into the ground -. pyrotechnics
In August 2015 the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko including “Philae” an event is imminent, that probably both will not survive.
In the summer of 2015, “Philae” die
At this time the heavenly bodies will reach its orbit around the sun the sun the next item. It is so hot on the comet, which then probably also becomes a comet.
Ulamec and ferric assume that this will mean the end of the lander. However, until he should have completed his long measurement program. Assuming “Philae” wakes up today from a deep sleep.
© Axel Springer SE 2014. All rights reserved