MARSEILLE, France (ESA PR) — Feeling stressed? You’re not alone. ESA’s Rosetta mission has revealed that geological stress arising from the shape of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko has been a key process in sculpting the comet’s surface and interior following its formation.
Small, icy comets with two distinct lobes seem to be commonplace in the Solar System, with one possible mode of formation a slow collision of two primordial objects in the early stages of formation some 4.5 billion years ago. A new study using data collected by Rosetta during its two years at Comet 67P/C-G has illuminated the mechanisms that contributed to shaping the comet over the following billions of years.
The entire history of human existence is a tiny blip in our solar system’s 4.5-billion-year history. No one was around to see planets forming and undergoing dramatic changes before settling in their present configuration. In order to understand what came before us — before life on Earth and before Earth itself — scientists need to hunt for clues to that mysterious distant past.
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.