Another day another milestone in the Rosetta mission but sadly this is the end of a very good run for the small European spacecraft.
<– That’s it!?
In 2004 the ESA launched the Rosetta mission with an orbiting and landing probe to study the comet C7P/Churyumov-Gerasimen… During its journey the spacecraft also flew past mars (2007) and several asteroids. On Aug 6 2014 a complex series of thrust manouvres (some reports used the term ‘audacious’!) led to the final orbit around the target comet. The mission had several firsts including
– the first mission to objectively study a comet nucleus and evaluate the ejected gas and material in the tail.
– first landing attempt to make a soft-landing on a comet.
Interestingly however, the long forgotten GIOTTO spacecraft was the first to actually perform a flyby of Haleys Commet in 1986 … https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giotto_(spacecraft)
It was even broadcast live in the UK – check it out!
When everyone realised the images were incomprehensible, the speculative dithering and waffle reaches cringe worthy levels – but I give them credit for their ‘keep calm and carry on approach’. Fortunately the enthusiasm for space science hasn’t waned. It is evident that since the ESA’s live broadcast of the philae lander (with it’s own variety of cringe-worthy-shirt-wearing moments – see below) our imaginations were captured again!
“Everything is going according to plan.” – Matt Taylor project scientist for the Rosetta Mission regarding the final trajectory of the probe … also appearing less inclined to flout a loud Hawaiian shirt in the public eye.
It has been an interesting journey for both science and public interest in the mission spanning both controversy and conquest. One now looks to NASA to one-up the ESA on their OSIRIS-REx mission to Bennu! ( http://www.asteroidmission.org/ )