Rosetta spacecraft is bound for a touchdown on comet 67P, according to the recently outlined plans of the European Space Agency.
The specifics are still in the making. Nonetheless, flight controllers with the European Space Agency know that Rosetta spacecraft will be joining Philae on the surface of comet 67P next year. A new phase of the mothership mission begins in December 2015 and will continue with what fuel is left through September 2016.
Rosetta project scientist Matt Taylor declared that with the celebration of one year at the comet, the European Space Agency is looking forward to the new phase of the mission bringing home historic scientific discoveries.
Rosetta spacecraft travelled through the solar system for ten years after arriving close to comet 67P in August last year. On November 12, 2014, Philae was launched into the beginning of its mission. The probe’s mission has been a bumpy one, with communication interruptions happening often. In August the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft reached the closest point to the sun following comet 67P’s orbit. It was cleverly steered away from the gas and dust cloud stemming from the comet.
Now, Rosetta is slowly making a comeback in the proximity of the comet. Rosetta spacecraft is bound for a touchdown on comet 67P. Last week it reached 105 miles distance from the nucleus of its target point and will continue moving in closer and closer.
Before touchdown, Rosetta will perform flybys meant to restore communications with landing probe Philae. The last time it was active was in July. The touchdown of Philae was a bumpy event. Its ice screws and anchoring harpoons did not discharge as the probe reached the Agilkia site. As the probe rebounded it only remained stuck against a cliff on the comet.
As the rocky wall blocked sunlight from recharging Philae, the battery of the lander was drained in two days. At this point, scientists observing the mission declare that 80 percent of it has been completed even under the given conditions.
As comet 67P moved closer to the Sun, the team back home hoped that will recharge the batteries sufficiently for the lander to come back to life and radio home. In June, it has done so, but Philae communicated through Rosetta. In July it went silent once more, leaving the engineers and scientist home hopeful that it will recover once more. Nonetheless, January might be too cold of a month for Philae to wake up and restore communication.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia