The Japanese Hayabusa-2 mission returned at least 5.4 g of dust from the asteroid Ryugu. That’s 50 times more than expected! These unpublished samples could contain primitive organic molecules that played a role in the emergence of life on Earth.
PARIS (CNES PR) — A fabulous Christmas present! A harvest beyond expectations! A dream come true … Words fail to qualify the extraordinary success of the Hayabusa2 mission which deposited on December 6, 2020, in the Australian desert, a 40 cm diameter capsule containing a treasure: at least 5.4 g material from asteroid Ryugu.
Reconstruction of second surface contact by Rosetta’s Philae lander during unplanned ‘hopping’ in November 2014 before its final ‘touchdown’.
The probe, rotating like a windmill, scraped a furrow in a highly porous, dark rocky area made of ice and dust on comet 67P, exposing 4.5-billion-year-old ice.
The ice has very weak internal cohesion and a consistency that is fluffier than cappuccino froth.
COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — After years of detective work, scientists working on the European Space Agency (ESA) Rosetta mission have now been able to locate where the Philae lander made its second and penultimate contact with the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 12 November 2014, before finally coming to a halt 30 metres away. This landing was monitored from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Philae Control Center.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA Television and the agency’s website will air the conclusion of ESA’s (European Space Agency’s) Rosetta mission from 6:15 to 8 a.m. EDT Friday, Sept. 30, with NASA commentary, interviews and analysis of the successful mission. The Rosetta mission will end with the controlled decent of the spacecraft onto the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at around 7:20 a.m.
PARIS (ESA PR) — Rosetta is set to complete its historic mission in a controlled descent to the surface of its comet on 30 September, with the end of mission confirmation predicted to be within 20 minutes of 11:20 GMT (13:20 CEST).Details of how, when and where to follow the key moments online, starting with a review of the mission’s impressive haul of science highlights on 29 September, can be found below.
Video Caption: Philae’s landing on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (#CometLanding) on 12 November 2014 was a historic moment – the first time in the history of space exploration that a spacecraft landed on a comet. Millions of people across the world followed the Rosetta mission via the Internet.
The DLR Video ‘Pieces of the Puzzle – Philae on Comet 67P’ provides an insight into the ‘roller coaster ride’ on the day of the #CometLanding: “We had to make decisions, develop concepts, alter schedules, sleep briefly and return – and then do the whole thing again and again. There was not a moment to breathe.”
In the video, Koen Geurts, Philae’s Technical Manager, looks at the days immediately after the landing and the following seven months of waiting for a renewed sign of life from Philae. The ‘crazy year’ was to continue, as on 14 June 2015, the comet lander once again reported back. However, the connections thus far have been irregular and unstable. And so, all those involved in the Rosetta mission must examine the pieces of the puzzle together to decipher what is happening 266 million kilometres from Earth.
Video Caption: 2015 began and ended with two pioneering missions: IXV, the Intermediate Experimental Vehicle, proving Europe’s ability to return autonomously from space, and LISA Pathfinder, which set out in December to test the technologies needed to detect gravitational waves and, with them, a new way to look at our Universe! But a lot has happened in between… More European astronauts have visited space and more satellites are beefing up Galileo and ESA’s Earth Observation programme!
PARIS (ESA PR) — Rosetta’s investigations of its comet are continuing as the mission teams count down the last month to perihelion – the closest point to the Sun along the comet’s orbit – when the comet’s activity is expected to be at its highest.
Rosetta has been studying Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko for over a year now, with observations beginning during the approach to the comet in March 2014. This included witnessing an outburst in late April 2014 and the revelation of the comet’s curious shape in early July.
COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — The Philae lander communicated with the Rosetta orbiter again between 19:45 and 20:07 CEST on 9 July 2015 and transmitted measurement data from the COmet Nucleus Sounding Experiment by Radiowave Transmission (CONSERT) instrument. Although the connection failed repeatedly after that, it remained completely stable for those 12 minutes.
PARIS, 14 June 2015 (ESA PR) — Rosetta’s lander Philae has woken up after seven months in hibernation on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.The signals were received at ESA’s European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt at 22:28 CEST on 13 June. More than 300 data packets have been analysed by the teams at the Lander Control Center at the German Aerospace Center (DLR).
“Philae is doing very well: It has an operating temperature of -35ºC and has 24 Watts available,” explains DLR Philae Project Manager Dr. Stephan Ulamec. “The lander is ready for operations.”
For 85 seconds Philae “spoke” with its team on ground, via Rosetta, in the first contact since going into hibernation in November.
When analysing the status data it became clear that Philae also must have been awake earlier: “We have also received historical data – so far, however, the lander had not been able to contact us earlier.”
Now the scientists are waiting for the next contact. There are still more than 8000 data packets in Philae’s mass memory which will give the DLR team information on what happened to the lander in the past few days on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Philae shut down on 15 November 2014 at 1:15 CET after being in operation on the comet for about 60 hours. Since 12 March 2015 the communication unit on orbiter Rosetta was turned on to listen out for the lander.
Update: Added Falcon Heavy flight test to the list.
A number of very cool space missions are set to unfold in the coming year. Here’s a brief rundown:
Jan. 6: Falcon 9 Barge Landing Attempt. SpaceX will attempt to land the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on a barge. The goal is to recover the stage intact for later relaunch. Success could lead to significantly lower launch costs in the years ahead.
March 5: Dawn Arrives at Ceres. Having completed an exploration of the asteroid Vesta, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is due to arrive at the dwarf planet Ceres on March 5. The vehicle will enter orbit around the unexplored world, which is the largest object in the Asteroid Belt.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and space agencies across the globe are opening up new possibilities for space exploration with missions to comets, asteroids, and other celestial bodies.
Following NASA, European Space Agency (ESA), and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) spacecraft observations of the close flyby of Mars by comet Siding Spring in October, and the successful November landing of ESA’s Philae lander on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully launched its Hayabusa2 mission on Dec. 3 to rendezvous with an asteroid, land a small probe plus three mini rovers on its surface, and then return samples to Earth.
DLR PR — Before going into hibernation at 01:36 CET on 15 November 2014, the Philae lander was able to conduct some work using power supplied by its primary battery. With its 10 instruments, the mini laboratory sniffed the atmosphere, drilled, hammered and studied Comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko while over 500 million kilometres from Earth. After a triple landing, positioning it in a new, unplanned location, conditions were not optimal, but Philae was able to work for more than 60 hours and send the resulting data back to Earth. It was controlled and monitored from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Lander Control Center (LCC). Now, the complicated data analysis begins. DLR’s Scientific Director for the project, Ekkehard Kührt, is very pleased with the results so far. “We have collected a great deal of valuable data, which could only have been acquired through direct contact with the comet. Together with the measurements performed by the Rosetta orbiter, we are well on our way to achieving a greater understanding of comets. Their surface properties appear to be quite different than was previously thought.”