Rosetta’s Life Ends September 30, 2016

As I write, mission control at ESA (European Space Agency) dutifully prepare Rosetta for her assisted suicide. In less than 6 hours (twenty minutes either side of 7:20 am ET to be precise), Rosetta enters controlled descent into the pits of Deir el-Medina on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

“The target area is home to several active pits measuring over 100 meters across and 60 meters deep [about 100 yards wide and 60 yards deep], from which a number of the comet’s dust jets originate. Some of the pit walls also exhibit intriguing meter-sized lumpy structures called ‘goosebumps’, which could be the signatures of early cometesimals [i.e, the building blocks of comets] that agglomerated to create the comet in the early phases of solar system formation. Rosetta’s final descent may afford detailed close-up views of these features.” – ESA

NASA television (first link below) is airing Rosetta’s descent live.

http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html#public

Another NASA link below, offers additional live viewing options and links to dedicated mission details –

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6630

https://i2.wp.com/www.esa.int/var/esa/storage/images/esa_multimedia/images/2016/09/rosetta_s_planned_impact_site/16124197-1-eng-GB/Rosetta_s_planned_impact_site_node_full_image_2.jpg

Rosetta will crash into the Ma’at region of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. The yellow ellipse marks an approximate outline of the 700- × 500-meter (700- x 500-yard) target area. Image via ESA.

Artist's concept of Rosetta

Artist’s concept of Rosetta shortly before hitting Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Sept. 30, 2016. Image credit: ESA/ATG medialab
› Larger view

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5 thoughts on “Rosetta’s Life Ends September 30, 2016

  1. If Rosetta is anything like its offspring Philae, it will probably smash into pieces that will bounce around like grasshoppers. Way to go Rosetta! This must be the first spacecraft whose demise is a celebration!

    • You be nice to Rosetta! She left Earth in 2004, spent the next 10 years sling shotting off planetary gravitational forces, napping to conserve energy, waking on command in 2014 just in time to mimic orbit and speed of a space rock no larger than some shopping malls.Philae was regrettable, but Rosetta kicked ass! 🙂

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