In March 2004, the European Space Agency launched the Rosetta probe en route towards Comet 67P / Churyumov – Gerasimenko. After a decade of travel in the Comet’s wake, the probe reached its destination. Now, after two years of amazing performance, the team on Earth is preparing its last goodbyes.
Comet 67P is ancient. Scientists long believed that a closer look could offer some tremendous insight and answer some older questions about the nature of the Universe. The mission of the Rosetta probe was to boldly go where no probe has gone before and take amazing, high resolution photographs.
The probe soared with determination and traveled in Comet 67P’s wake for a whole decade before catching up to it. Rosetta then began its work.
In two years of continuous toil, the Rosetta probe took thousands of pictures from all possible angles of the astral body. It took countless measurements, recorded millions of lines of data. Comet 67P even wound up with a small lite lander thanks to the successful efforts of the probe.
For twelve years, the European Space Agency considered the work of the Rosetta probe to be an amazing success. However, all good things must reach their end.
Rosetta Probe Ends Its Wonderful Adventure
Comet 67P / Churyumov – Gerasimenko is now traveling further away from the Sun. The Rosetta probe is running entirely on solar batteries, meaning that if it continues to tail the ancient space stone, it will eventually power off and permanently go offline. To make matters worse, the comet’s trajectory will pass by Jupiter at an angle that will cause the giant planet to entirely block out the sun.
As a result, Rosetta would power off even faster. The European Space Agency team on Earth weighed their options. They could set Rosetta to hibernate and then maybe reawaken the probe after Comet 67P passes Jupiter. However, spending 12 years in the burning tail of a comet has taken its toll on the probe. Chances of making it out of hibernation were slim.
Instead, the team decided that the best way to go about it will be to get the Rosetta probe close enough to Comet 67P to become attracted to its weak gravitational pull. In a final slow descent, the probe will continue to gather and send data before going out in a blaze of glory. Even if the crash does not set the probe to offline mode, the lack of sunlight will quickly drain its batteries.
Scientists of the European Space Agency have stated that the final journey of the Rosetta probe will happen at the end of the month. They expect it to be an emotional moment for the entire team.
In its twelve years of uptime, the Rosetta probe has gathered so much information that scientists expect decades to fully go through.it all.