Surface Activity: Rosetta Mission Extended, NASA PR Work

ESA announced that the Rosetta mission has been officially extended by nine months, which will allow significant data collection after perihelion in August. This seems like a no brainer to me. I mean, if you go all the way out to 67P/CG, you want to collect data until you run out of sunlight, no? And you want to get as much before and after data as possible, right?

But this is the Extremely European SA, so there are carefully documented decision making processes.

The extended period will assure that Rosetta will have opportunity to move closer and get detailed imagery and measurements of the comet after perihelion. In particular, as 67P/CG moves away from the Sun, it will get cooler and the outgassing will end. This will allow Rosetta to orbit much lower without difficulty, and obtain higher resolution measurements. (Fingers crossed.)

The New Horizons is closing on Pluto, and there should be more and more imagery coming in the next three weeks. Stand by for planetary-scale hype!

Meanwhile, NASA PR is milking the “mysterious bright spots” on Ceres for all it’s worth. Despite weeks of observations, the NASA press releases are still teasing us with “is it ice or is it salt”. Sigh. At least they could tell us some details about what observations are being made, and how they will be evaluated to identify the bright material.



Space Saturday

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