OK, it’s time to check in on Rosetta again.
This is one of the most exciting space missions in quite a while, and certainly the most interesting this year. (Sorry, Shibes, this is more interesting than Lunar Iditarod.)
Rosetta is a decade into its mission, and is closing in on the target, the comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (hereinafter, “the comet”). The flight has been a really cool low energy thing, around and around and out.
In the past two months, the spacecraft has awakened from hibernation and all the instruments have been checked out. It is an awesome array of sensors, in a tiny package. Everything seems to be OK.
Lots of details available from the ESA blogs–techno fetishists, have a ball!
I note there was at least one significant software patch–a really, really remote upgrade: 655 millions km. remote! Phew! Nice work, all.
The craft is closing in on the comet, which is now in view. In fact, it is beginning to warm up from the sun. As the scientists note, this is as close as anyone has ever observed this stage of a comet’s activities.
Things only get cooler from here. Rosetta will rendezvous with the comet in August–unprecedented. Then, an even more important first: it will drop a lander to the surface.
If things go as planned, Philae will land on the surface in November, with 11 instruments to take surface and sub-surface samples. Wow!