What’s all the fuss on TV you ask?
Essentially this is a spacecraft on a 10 year mission to ” Catch A Comet” and answer many looming questions. Who knew a comet coming 2014 ?
The spacecraft was to land on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and thereafter ride with or on it and enter into our solar system on the comet’s journey or orbit. The space mission which holds much hope in unravelling the mysteries hopefully of life on Earth.
Much has been speculated on comets, both i.t.o. their origin and i.t.o. their crashing into the Earth’s past and playing a role in the life formation on Earth.
New theories today backed with what appears scientific data, say that the very core of life, the DNA of all that exists, is contained within the cosmos and from this springs life when frequency or current flows in the mix exciting this to form life.
Back to Rosetta.
The mission started back in 1993 when approved by the ESA’s Horizons 2000 Science Programme. Puprpose was to explore this mysterious small ice world, the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Scientists from all over Europe and the USA have combined forces to develop a lander, named Philae, to actually land on the comet to explore various aspects of it. Rosetta was launched in March of 2004 after some problematics and failures occurred, all leading up to this day, 12 Nov 2014.
It was a ten year mission to travel through the asteroid belt and into deep space to meet up with the periodic icy comet and land on it.
The Rosetta Orbiter was to stay in close proximity of the comet as it moved towards the hotter areas of our Sun, whilst the lander, Philae, was to be released onto the comet itself and become a companion on its journey , while exploration on the surface resumed in search for answers or confirmation to long awaited questions.
The mission on the comet will last a year and will start the curtain drop around December 2015. At that stage both spacecraft and comet will have circled our Sun and be on their outbound journey away from the inner Solar System.
Firsts in history !! ( Well the history as told to the public)
- First to orbit a comet’s nucleus
- First craft to observe from close proximity the change of a frozen comet as it transforms from the warmth of the sun.
- First craft to obtain close up images of its surface and make situation analysis of it. The lander’s instruments will be the first to receive these images
- First craft to fly alongside a comet
- The lander being released from the craft to land on the comet a first
- The craft will pass through the asteroid belt and will be the first European craft with the option to encounter these very old objects.
The results of this mission will be compared to the previous ESA’s Giotto spacecraft mission and ground based observatories.
Comets contain very complex organic molecules. Compounds which are rich in Helium , Nitrogen , Oxygen and Hydrogen. They are generally a few kilometres in size up to tens of kilometers across.
As a comet approaches the inner solar system the radiation causes the volatile materials within the comet to vaporize and stream from the nucleus carrying dust away with it. The streams of dust and gas around the comet then forms an extremely tenuous atmosphere which is called the coma.
There is force exerted on this coma by the radiation from the sun and hence the tail is formed.
What’s interesting is most people believe the tail is form as a sort of trail from the “debris” or gasses it releases on its path.
A misinterpreted opinion as the tail is formed as a result of the radiation pressure of the Sun.
As the comet approaches the sun the tail coincidently will form “behind” it. When it leaves the Sun domain the tail will form as it were in its path of travel assuming its path is positioned exactly in alignment with the force exerted by the sun radiation on the tail materials.
The lander on the comet on 12 November, 08h03 am PST. Success!
And Comet coming 2014, still and on its way to the inner solar system till Dec 2015, then outbound and awayyyy!!