Tomorrow, 12 November, marks eight years since ESA’s Rosetta Mission sent its #Philae lander towards the surface of Comet #67P in a dramatic space exploration first.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane… 👇
What is a comet?
Comets are small celestial bodies, typically made of ice and dust, that orbit the Sun. They are often described as “dirty snowballs” because of their composition. When a comet nears the Sun, its surface warms up and releases gas and dust into space, creating a tail that points away from the Sun.
Comets are incredibly interesting to scientists because they are thought to be some of the oldest objects in our solar system. They are also believed to be responsible for delivering water and other organic molecules to planets like Earth, which is why studying them is so important.
The Rosetta mission was launched in 2004 with the goal of studying a comet up close. The mission ended in 2016 when the spacecraft landed on the comet’s surface. During its time observing the comet, Rosetta made some amazing discoveries that have helped us to better understand these fascinating objects.
How the Rosetta Mission Came To Be
In 2004, the European Space Agency launched the Rosetta mission, an ambitious effort to land a spacecraft on a comet and study its composition. The mission was named after the Rosetta Stone, which allowed scholars to decipher ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. Like the stone, ESA hoped that the Rosetta mission would help unlock secrets of the universe.
The idea for the Rosetta mission began in the late 1980s, when scientists first realized that comets contain valuable information about the early solar system. Comets are made of primordial material that has been preserved in a deep freeze for billions of years. By studying comets, scientists could learn about the formation of planets and how life may have beginnings elsewhere in the universe.
In 1993, ESA issued a call for proposals for a mission to rendezvous with and land on a comet. Several teams submitted proposals, but it wasn’t until 2001 that ESA selected a team led by Dr. Matthias Maurer to develop the Rosetta mission. The team’s proposal called for launching Rosetta in 2004 on an Ariane 5 rocket and landing it on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014.
After years of development, the Rosetta spacecraft was finally ready for launch in 2004. However, shortly before liftoff, one of the Ariane 5’s boosters failed, causing the rocket to explode. Thankfully, no one was injured and ESA decided to continue with the mission, launching another Ari
Launching The Philae Lander
The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission has been a resounding success, revolutionizing our understanding of comets and the solar system. The mission launched on March 2, 2004 and reached its destination, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, on August 6, 2014.
The most exciting part of the mission came on November 12, when the Philae lander made a historic landing on the comet’s surface. It was the first time a man-made object had ever landed on a comet.
Philae sent back invaluable data and pictures from the surface of the comet, giving us an unprecedented glimpse into the composition of these fascinating bodies. The data will help us to better understand the formation and evolution of comets, and their role in the history of our solar system.
The Philae lander is just one part of the overall Rosetta mission, which is providing us with an incredible amount of data that will continue to be studied for years to come. The mission is truly changing our understanding of the universe, and we are thrilled to be along for the ride!
Learning From Comet 67P And Creating New Discoveries
Researchers are still pouring over data from the Rosetta mission, eight years after the spacecraft completed its historic rendezvous with Comet 67P. The mission has given us unparalleled insights into the composition and behavior of comets, and has also provided new information about the Solar System’s formation and evolution.
Rosetta’s data has helped scientist to better understand cometary nuclei, which are thought to be leftover building blocks from the formation of the Solar System. By studying 67P, we have learned more about how comets evolve over time, as well as their potential role in delivering water and other materials to planets and moons.
The mission has also had a profound impact on our understanding of planetary formation. For example, studies of 67P’s dusty coma have revealed that comets may have played a role in delivering water to Earth during its early history. This new knowledge could help us to find other worlds like our own, and to better understand our place in the Universe.