The Rosetta probe has been has been lazing around for a bit. It has been around the Sun five times as controllers line it up to meet comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August of this year. But for the last 31 months it has been in hibernation as this part of its journey was the coldest and took it close to Jupiter.
But now it’s time to wake up and get ready to get to work. While the Rosetta probe will be waking up via its internal time clock the ESA is asking the public to get involved. Although Rosetta’s internal clock will soon be waking her up, THE ESA (European Space Agency) is asking people to film themselves shouting "Wake up, Rosetta!" then share their video clips on a dedicated Facebook page. Visitors to the page wil vote on their favorites and the top ten will be sent to space & Rosetta.
After the comet Haley provided so much information to the ESA’s Giotto and other probes from around the world, the ESA and NASA worked together developing new probes. When NASA suffered from budget cuts its probe, CRAF, was cancelled but the ESA continued. To develop a CRAF-like probe. Originally a sample return mission was planned but the ESAs own budget concerns ended up redesigning the mission. An asteroid fly-by followed by a comet rendezvous with an examination while the comet remained acting under normal conditions. And so the Rosetta probe was launched in March of 2004.
The timeline for the mission -both parts that have been completed and the exciting parts yet to occur, is below:
Launch (March 2, 2004)
First Earth flyby (March 4, 2005)
Mars flyby (February 25, 2007)
Second Earth flyby (November 13, 2007 )
Flyby of asteroid 2867 Šteins (September 5, 2008)
Third Earth flyby (November 13, 2009)
Flyby of asteroid 21 Lutetia (July 10, 2010)
Deep-space hibernation (June 2011 - January 2014)
Comet approach (January–May 2014)
Comet mapping / Characterisation (August 2014)
Landing on the comet (November 2014)
Escorting the comet around the Sun (November 2014 - December 2015)
End of mission (December 2015)
Aboard the Rosetta are a number of scientific instruments. The investigation of the core utilizes three spectroscopes, one microwave radio antenna and one radar. Specifically; There is OSIRIS, the optical, spectroscopic and infrared remote imaging which was constructed in Germany. VIRTIS, the Visible & Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer which was made in Italy and which improved versions of this tool accompanied Dawn and Venus Express. MIRO – Microwave Instrument for the Rosetta Orbiter-which can claim a joint effort as Germany provided the antenna whereas the US provided the remainder of the instrument. CONSERT is a Comet Nucleus Sounding Experiment which was developed by France though again the antennas were from Germany. (I assume Germany must be really good at antenna!) AND then there are the four instruments for gas & particles (remember this is a comet.) ROSINA: Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis, MIDAS: Micro-Imaging Dust Analysis System. COSIMA: Cometary Secondary Ion Mass Analyzer and finally GIADA: Grain Impact Analyzer and Dust Accumulator.
All this works towards the goal of finding out more about the building blocks of the Universe. Rosetta will meet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko when it is still in the cold regions of the Solar System at around 675 million kilometres from the Sun.It’s okay to get excited about this cool comet chaser, right?