Photo Credit http://www.space.com/
According to published reports, after 10 years in space, the Rosetta spacecraft closes in on its cometary loot. Rosetta will go into orbit near the nucleus of comet 67p/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The probe is toting a small lander designed to settle on the comet nucleus, take samples and manage experiments.
Rosetta is the first mission constructed to both orbit a comet and install a lander on its surface. Part of Rosetta’s mission is to catalog the elements and molecules that exist in the comet’s dust. A former sample-return mission to a different comet found particles of organic matter that are the building blocks of life. [Photos: Europe’s Rosetta Comet Mission in Pictures]
The lander was named after Philae Island in the Nile River. A comet nucleus has very low gravity, so the lander gambles on harpoons and ice screws to secure itself to the surface.
Published on Jan 20, 2014
Image Credits:Europe Space Agency ESA
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