ESA (European Space Agency) probe Rosetta released this image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko of July 29. (Link below if you have no idea what I’m talking about)
Taken from a distance less than 2000 kilometers, this tiny (3.5 x 4 Km.) space object is about to make history. In less than a week, following Close Approach Trajectory burns on August 3 and 6 – Rosetta will be traveling tandem at a distance of 100 Km. All leading up to November 11 when Rosetta deploys the Philae probe – a carefully planned landing of scientific instruments on a miniscule chunk of gas, dust and ice orbiting our Sun between Mars and Jupiter, at a distance of 544 million kilometers.
A year from now, 67P’s orbit will take it within 185 million kilometers of the sun. Science understood timing is everything – Rosetta had to encounter 67P at exactly the right moment. Rosetta’s destiny set in stone long before the moment of countdown. A year from now and millions of kilometers closer to the sun – solar energy heated gases and melting ice will turn this polite little comet into an unpredictable, swollen renegade – science had an idea, made a plan, and knew the precise moment landing a probe on this distant Comet was possible.
Ponder what it took to launch a satellite 10 years ago, calculate precise orbits of our planet and Mars using gravitational pull as a means of propulsion, toss in a 31 month “sleep”, wake Rosetta at precisely the right moment, initiate a series of controlled “burns” to slow and edge it closer to the surface, maneuver it until traveling in tandem – all geared towards 7 – 10 glorious days of data collected by landing a probe on the surface in November.
Remarkable as Rosetta’s anticipated comet landing may be, well over 6000 active probes and satellites currently expand our understanding of the universe. Click this link for an eye opening lesson….
This link for Rosetta news….
My only wish is that I could be alive 50 years from now to witness our understanding of the cosmos. There’s no doubt in my mind it will turn conventional thinking on its head – who knows, it might just be Rosetta who unlocks the door.