Friday 17 January 2014
milestone for the entire project: The probe ‘”Rosetta” ended shortly their deep sleep in space. After ten years, the mission is facing its decisive phase: it is to send a lander on a comet. That has never happened before.
On Monday at point 11.00 clock ringing in the spacecraft “Rosetta” the alarm clock. After 957 days of “hibernation” will come to life again in the depths of space the unmanned comet hunters of the European Space Agency ESA. The instruments of the probe 810 million kilometers from the Earth gradually activated before “Rosetta” gets to the final leg of their long journey: After more than ten years in space research probe will reach their destination in the summer – the comet 67P/Tschurjumov -Gerasimenko.
“waking up” from “Rosetta” is a milestone for the entire mission, which is considered one of the most spectacular operations of the European space sector. The probe is to pivot into an orbit around the comet and later settle the lander “Philae” on the four-kilometer chunk of ice, frozen gas and dust.
“Riding the Comet”
Both maneuvers it has never been in the history of research flights to comets. This is the “Rosetta” mission “one of the most complex and demanding far at all,” the ESA described before their planned for autumn “Riding the Comet”.
The comet Tschurjumov-Gerasimenko orbits the Sun once every 6.45 years and is regarded as his countless cousins ??as remnants from the formation of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago. 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
Burning Questions to the comet
No wonder 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”.
Since its launch on 2 March 2004 “Rosetta” traveled 6.2 billion kilometers in space. Three times they took on their journey over near orbits the earth once they happened to Mars, and twice she encountered small pieces of rock called asteroids. In June 2011, the probe was finally added to save energy in a “deep sleep”. After the automated wake-up on Monday it should continue on course to Tschurjumov-Gerasimenko and reach the comet in August.
series of delicate maneuvers
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 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
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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 is happening on the comet, 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.