For a decade, the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft has flown through the vastness of space. Now it is ever closer getting to its target: 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko - a comet full of surprises. Its nucleus, for example, is similar to a rubber duckie. Scientists are therefore eagerly waiting for August 6, when Rosetta will enter into orbit around the celestial body. And in November Philae will land on its surface.
It is the end of a long journey: launched on 2 March 2004, the Rosetta space probe swung into an orbit around the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August 2014 and set down the Philae lander onto the cometary surface in November of the same year. The mother probe itself now landed on the comet’s nucleus – and thereby completed the mission. However, scientists will be working on all the recorded images and measurement data for a while yet. The initial findings already promise to provide a wealth of new knowledge.
An interview with Holger Sierks from the MPI for Solar System Research on the end of the Rosetta mission
Rosetta was undoubtedly one of space travel’s most daring enterprises.
The most poignant images of the Rosetta mission.
The ten-year journey of the Rosetta space probe, which will end this year in August when it arrives at the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet, was packed with interesting points of interest. In order to increase its speed, Rosetta flew past Earth three times and Mars once; the asteroids Steins and Lutetia also crossed the probe’s path. And each time the OSIRIS camera system provided impressive images. The development and construction of the eye was headed by a team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research.
The sight of a bright comet has fascinated humankind through the ages. But what’s behind such celestial spectacles? It’s only in modern times that researchers have got wise to the phenomenon - by then, the comets already had a long career as harbingers of bad tidings or heavenly messengers.