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Rosetta gets a wakeup call

by EMILY SZPAK Social Media Coordinator

Rosetta, Russia’s cometary space probe that has been sleeping for three years, was awoken on January 20 via interplanetary wake-up call.

The probe has spent a decade in space, released on July 2004, and was put into hibernation in late 2011. NASA sent a signal to wake the satellite up after two years of hibernation.

By November 11, 2014, the probe will be set into place on the comet in its robotic lander. The probe was put through many tests throughout its last decade in space in order to maneuver comet-like speeds by many flybys of the earth.

The probe was put in sleep mode to conserve power, but is finally ready to come back to life.

The space station waited 18 minutes for a response from the Rosetta. The spacecraft’s verified Twitter tweeted when it woke from its hibernation to inform its followers the mission was brought back. The Rosetta mission tweeted its first message upon its awakening – “Hello, World!”

The overall mission for Rosetta is to increase knowledge on comets and their compositions. With this information, scientists can perhaps learn more about the evolution of our entire solar system. There is much to be learned about comets and their composition, such as how much water they contain and if they are potential threats to the earth. Perhaps science will be able to grasp knowledge of the evolution of our solar system.

Rosetta itself is a spacecraft designed by the European Space Agency. It is the first mission that entails orbiting and landing on a comet. Rosetta is scheduled for a 17 month orbit, but plans to be the most in-depth, detailed study of a comet yet.

The spacecraft has been running tests over the past decade in order to determine whether or not they can retain the speed necessary to catch up to the comet and land on it. Rosetta will determine a landing site in October, and the following month plans to land.

The probe will release its 220 pound robotic lander, named Philae, after the city near the Nile river. The lander will shoot a harpoon, anchoring itself to the 2.4 mile comet, named 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenkos. The probe plans to spend a year on the comet. Philae will drill to get samples about eight inches into the comet’s surface using its 10 science instruments.

“I think it’s cool that they’re able to get a spacecraft on a comet. It’ll be interesting to find out what they can find out from what a comet’s made of,” says junior Sydney Wilham.

What do you think about the Rosetta mission, and what do you think can be learned?

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