Friday, November 21, 2014

ESA Rosetta mission: After the comet landing comes the real Science

Artist’s impression of ESA’s Rosetta cometary probe

The spacecraft is covered with dark thermal insulation in order to keep it warm while venturing into the coldness of the outer Solar System, beyond Mars orbit. 

Credit: ESA

With the Philae lander’s mission complete, ESA's Rosetta probe will now continue its own extraordinary exploration, orbiting Comet 67P/Churymov–Gerasimenko during the coming year as the enigmatic body arcs ever closer to our Sun.

Last week, ESA's Rosetta spacecraft delivered its Philae lander to the surface of the comet for a dramatic touchdown.

The lander’s planned mission ended after about 64 hours when its batteries ran out, but not before it delivered a full set of results that are now being analysed by scientists across Europe.

Rosetta’s own mission is far from over and the spacecraft remains in excellent condition, with all of its systems and instruments performing as expected.

“With lander delivery complete, Rosetta will resume routine science observations and we will transition to the ‘comet escort phase',” says Flight Director Andrea Accomazzo.

“This science-gathering phase will take us into next year as we go with the comet towards the Sun, passing perihelion, or closest approach, on 13 August, at 186 million kilometres from our star.”

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