Rosetta Successfully Puts Lander On Comet

Posted by Bob Muir on Nov 13, 2014 in Science, Tech |

Philae concept art

While probes have played around comets before, none have ever landed on a comet — until now. The European Space Agency is finally seeing the payoff for a mission they started way back in March 2004, when they launched the unmanned Rosetta spacecraft and its lander Philae. While the Rosetta met up with the comet back in July, it took weeks to fly around the comet and determine a safe place to land. Operations were complicated by the Rosetta having to travel over 6 billion kilometers to meet up with the comet’s path; at that distance, even light-speed transmissions take almost half an hour to reach Earth, so any control had to be calculated and input well ahead of landing. Despite some bumps (including the securing harpoons not firing, resulting in a bounce and a second landing), it seems Philae is running smoothly now and will be collecting data through about March 2015, when it builds up too much heat. The Rosetta will at least operate through December 2015, but could go longer if the fuel holds out. Congratulations, ESA! Now get some cool data!

Source: The Guardian

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