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Rosetta probe survives 31-month deep sleep


Posted on Tuesday, 21 January, 2014 | Comment icon 16 comments

Rosetta is expected to reach the comet later this year. Image Credit: NASA/JPL
ESA's comet chasing spacecraft has successfully woken up after hibernating for two-and-a-half years.
Launched by the European Space Agency in 2004, Rosetta has been on-course to a comet known as '67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko' where it will conduct a number of experiments and land a robot on the surface.

Due to the length of the trip and because the probe relies on solar rather than nuclear power, the spacecraft had been effectively 'put to sleep' for a period of 31 months to help conserve its energy.

Now after a long and agonizing wait scientists have finally received a signal to say that it has successfully awoken from its hibernation as it prepares for the final few months of its approach.

Rosetta's destination is a comet that is thought to be 4.6 billion years old and comes from a time before the Earth even existed and the sun was in its infancy. Scientists hope that by investigating the comet they will be able to find clues to help explain what took place in the earliest days of our solar system such as how the Earth and the other planets originally formed.

Source: Independent | Comments (16)

Tags: Rosetta, Comet


 
Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #7 Posted by Sundew on 21 January, 2014, 19:08
There is no way to tell how large the comet was originally, but it sure seems like after several billion years it would have "evaporated" long ago with every pass near the sun. I realize it's not a sun grazer and is pretty far out in space at it's closest but it must loose some material with each pass.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 21 January, 2014, 19:14
I'm surprised any man made material can survive in the freeze for that long. Let alone any delicate electronics. Although the spacecraft was in hibernation, with all it's scientific instruments switched off and no communications with Earth for 31 months, it's computer periodically commanded heaters to warm the electronic to prevent them freezing.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 21 January, 2014, 19:31
but it sure seems like after several billion years it would have "evaporated" long ago with every pass near the sun. You seem to be making two assumptions here: the comet is made up totally of volatile material the comet has been in an orbit close to the sun for billions of years. Both these assumptions are wrong. Whilst comets contain a large amount of volatile material some of these "dirty snowballs" are more dirt than snow. In fact 6% of Near Earth asteroids are believed to be extinct comets, so a substantial amount of material can remain even after the volatiles have boiled off. Secondly C... [More]
Comment icon #10 Posted by stevemagegod on 22 January, 2014, 1:42
Rosetta's destination is a comet that is thought to be 4.6 billion years old and comes from a time before the Earth even existed and the sun was in its infancy. I can't even fathom something older than Planet Earth other than the Universe itself.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 22 January, 2014, 1:49
I can't even fathom something older than Planet Earth other than the Universe itself. You see something older the the Earth every clear day... the Sun.
Comment icon #12 Posted by coolguy on 22 January, 2014, 4:33
I hope this is able to land on the comet and not crash in to it
Comment icon #13 Posted by wallarookiller on 22 January, 2014, 7:13
I can't even fathom something older than Planet Earth other than the Universe itself. I find it rough to think about any of it. Whether the vast reaches of the universe or the insane amount of time that has been and will be.
Comment icon #14 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 22 January, 2014, 14:31
I hope this is able to land on the comet and not crash in to it Rosetta itself can't land, but it carries a smaller lander called Philae which can. The video in THIS POST shows how the landing will occur.
Comment icon #15 Posted by stevemagegod on 25 January, 2014, 1:15
You see something older the the Earth every clear day... the Sun. Good point forgot about that
Comment icon #16 Posted by hegman44 on 26 January, 2014, 15:50
I find it so amazing that we/humans took our 1st flight in 1902 & here we are 112 years later & we are landing spacecraft on asteroids & doing all kinds of neat stuff in space, I mean we went from the 1st flight to landing on the moon in just 67 years, I just think that is amazing, just imagine what It will be like in the upcoming future at the rate technology is advancing, hard to even imagine what will happen in the near future of space travel.


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