Spacecraft awakens from three-year slumber, promises to help unlock mysteries of solar system and life
Rosetta mission is risky and complex, but so far, so good!
A deep-space probe which has been silently traveling for almost a decade, awoke from a long slumber over the weekend and has a date with a comet that scientists that have patiently waited for years. The Rosetta mission, as it is called, will help scientists unlock some of the mysteries about the origins of our solar system.
Beyond Jupiter, solar panels of are minimal use because the Sun is far away and faint.
Light a candle for all those who work to answer the mysteries of the world for us.
There were worries the craft would not wake from its frozen slumber, that perhaps 957 days in the dark of deep space were too much.
This wasn't the only challenge for the intrepid spacecraft which was launched in 2004 and spent the last decade looping around the Sun, passing Venus, Earth, Mars, and eventually out past the orbit of Jupiter. The craft gained a little speed and flew farther out each time it was slingshot past one of the inner planets.
The Rosetta craft even managed to photograph a couple asteroids on its way past Jupiter, adding value to its mission.
Despite the challenge and the hazard of the mission to date, it's all just a prelude to the main event. The main event will be an August rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August. Scientists have performed fly bys of comets before, but this time the probe will actually orbit the comet, allowing sustained observations of the comet as it approaches the sun.
In November, Rosetta will attempt another feat, which will involve the landing of a probe on the comet's surface. The landing probe will make detailed observations of the comet from its surface.
These observations are of great value to scientists since they will reveal what the comet is made of, and possibly then, what materials went into the formation of our planet and life on Earth. Scientists will perform several organic chemistry experiments on the comet.
It is believed that comets are what's left over from the formation of our solar system and that once the Earth formed and cooled, comets continued to strike the planet and delivered most of the water on Earth. Without those comet impacts early in Earth's history, the water on the planet's surface would have disappeared into space and could not have collected on the hot surface of a new-formed planet.
Missions like Rosetta are important because they help us to answer fundamental questions about ourselves from a physical perspective.
The Rosetta missions is a mission of the European Space Agency.
Pope Francis calls for your 'prayer and action'...
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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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