Hibernating Beauty

It sounds like something out of a fairytale– after nearly three years, Rosetta awakened from her sleep. “Hello, World!” she said. She rose from her slumber, warmed up her navigational instruments, and chased her handsome prince around the Sun.

Rosetta is an exploratory spacecraft launched by the European Space Agency, with the mission to rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. After 31 months in hibernation, the internal alarm clock determined the solar-powered craft was in close enough proximity to the Sun to resume its functions.

After a few reboot protocols, Rosetta positioned it’s antenna toward earth and sent a signal home to inform mission operators it was back in range of communication and its power source.

Rosetta’s task was to scout the comet, identifying a site on which to deploy a landing craft. This would be the first time a landing on a comet had ever been attempted.

Rosetta was equipped with instruments and apparatus designed to map the surface of the comet and measure the atmosphere as it orbits around the Sun, among its other important functions.

When it awoke in January, 2014, the craft was 9 million km from its target. It arrived at its destination on August 6 of that year, according to http://rosetta.esa.int, and deployed the lander shortly after in November.

Philae Landing Craft Touchdown

Over the next year, Rosetta continued to orbit the comet, collecting data from the lander. In December 2015, it returned to earth and completed its mission.

Awakening 9 million miles from its destination, Rosetta is a rare story of a long-distance relationship with a happy ending.

For the full story, visit https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140120111111.htm and http://rosetta.esa.int

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