Voice by KidReporter: Aryana, Grade 4
Probe Philae from a spacecraft called Rosetta has successfully landed on to the comet 67P.
Rosetta, a mission of the European Space agency, built in collaboration with NASA was launched into space in 2004. It has made 3 flybys of the Earth, 1 flyby of Mars and has encountered several asteroids as it prepared its course to reach and fly alongside a comet called 67P or Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
All previous comet missions have been flybys. With Rosetta though, scientists followed alongside the comet 67P, and on Nov 12th 2014, a probe called Philae was successfully launched onto it!
Rosetta works on Solar energy alone and has achieved many first’s:
- In June 2011, the mission required it to go into an orbit that took it beyond Jupiter’s orbit, to a distance of 800 million km from the sun. At this distance, it had to “go to sleep” in order to conserve energy. Its orbit eventually brought it back to 673 million km from the Sun when it came back ON exactly as it was scheduled to, on January 20th 2014. It was for the first time that a spacecraft had survived the journey into the deep space.
- Then, in August 2014, Rosetta aligned with the orbit of comet 67P - another first! And on November 12th, Rosetta successfully launched the probe right onto the surface of comet 67P!
Rosetta is expected to measure the comet’s gravity, shape, chemical composition and environment, and, how it interacts with the sun’s atmosphere and solar winds. The only hitch so far is that the probe did not manage to attach the anchors to fix it to the comet. Scientists believe that despite this hitch, Phillae will soon start drilling on the comet’s surface to examine it. Data will be sent back to Earth to help us understand comets better.
Comets are particularly interesting because of their travels. They may have stored crucial nuggets of information from a different time from their travel that will tell us how things were when the universe was forming.
Scientists are already being wowed by the pictures and data being sent from Rosetta as it moves along the comet’s orbit. Wonder what we will find - hints to alien life?