Feeds

ESA readies Rosetta for next year's comet touchdown

Pssst … time to wake up

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More than nine years after its launch, and after a long deep-sleep, the ESA's Rosetta comet-hunter is soon to be woken up for a November 2014 rendezvous with comet comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

ESA officials will be watching the clock after 10:00 GMT on January 20, waiting to receive the signals that will tell them Rosetta has fired up and is communicating again. That will end a two-year hibernation that begun when the spacecraft finished five “slingshot” runs around Earth, Mars and the Sun, to reach the 100,000 km/h velocity it needs to catch 67P.

During the hibernation, the ESA worked on fixes for glitches in the reaction wheels that it will use for steering, and a leak in a helium tank that's needed to provide manoeuvring thrust.

When it wakes, Rosetta will be around 800 million kilometres distant, with signals taking 45 minutes to make the trip.

Once awake, Rosetta will be set to work locating the comet, moving into rendezvous position near the comet in August 2014. After a few months photographing and mapping the comet's surface, Rosetta will then dispatch a barrel-sized lander, Philae, to study the comet's nucleus close-up.

The lander will send back humanity's first photos of a comet on its surface, and will then drill into the surface to take samples. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.