Wake up, Rosetta!
Thirty-one months of deep space hibernation have come to an end for the European comet chaser
The European Space Agency has put together an adorable video to kick off the publicity campaign around the reawakening of its comet-chasing spacecraft, Rosetta.
The probe launched way back in 2004, and has since travelled around the Sun five times, swung past Earth and Mars, and is preparing to rendezvous with its eventual destination: the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Rosetta is currently 673 million kilometres from the Sun, so it’ll get a bit of a lie-in — its internal alarm clock is set for 10am GMT on 20 January 2014. After a bit of yawning and stretching, the probe will radio back to Earth that it’s ready for its mission a few hours later.
Rosetta will approach the comet in early 2014, arriving in orbit around it in May. From there, the lander Philae will be dropped slowly onto its surface, firing a pair of harpoons to keep it attached and then drilling itself into place.
It’ll remain on the comet for more than a year, trying to work out what its nucleus is made of, looking at the chemical compounds present, and seeing how it develops over time. Its mission will finally end in December 2015.
The European Space Agency is celebrating the wake-up process with an invitation to record yourself on video shouting “Wake up, Rosetta!”, and then share it on the Rosetta’s dedicated Facebook page. The top ten videos will be beamed out into space towards Rosetta, and the two best entrants will be invited to visit the European Space Agency in Darmstadt in Germany for the comet landing event.
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