Scientists are reporting that finally the European Rosetta probe has awoken from numerous years of hibernation on Monday and finally sent a call back to Earth, it has phoned home. It was a signal that covered over a half billion miles back to researchers who have been waiting anxiously for hours. Latent systems on the unmanned spaceship were turned on again in preparation for the last stage of its decade mission when it meets up with comet 67P. The Rosetta probe systems had been lowered down back in 2011 in order to save energy, but also left scientists in the dark over the fate of the probe until now when the call came in.
Rosetta’s mission team, which is located at the European Space Agency, stated that they were preparing pre-defined tele-commands in which to upload onto the ship with additional orders. However those signals will take approximately 45 minutes to reach the spacecraft, which means over an hour and a half of waiting for any kind of reports.
Before the communication was received, scientists were extremely nervous about what the status was of the far away probe.
The Rosetta spaceship was given its name after a stone which allowed archeologists to decode antique Egyptian symbols. Scientists are hoping that the probe’s discoveries will aid them in understand the structure of comets and also help discover more information about the beginning and also evolution of the solar system.
Comets are considered to be flying time capsules because they have basically been unchanged for over 4 billion years. Scientists have guessed that comets, which are in essence dirty, giant snowballs, could be accountable for water that has been discovered on numerous planets. Similar to asteroids, comets are also a threat to all life on Earth.
As the millennia have passed, comets really have affected the evolution of life on Earth. There are numerous theories over comets smashing into the Earth and causing global calamities. So by understanding comets, it is also very important to watch things that could happen in the future and begin to learn what could possibly be done to shield the Earth from dangerous comets.
If everything goes as has been planned, Rosetta will reach comet 67 P in the next few months. It will fly a sequence of complex maneuvers in order to observe the comet, which is nearly 3 miles in diameter, before it drops a lander on the comets icy surface in November of this year. The probe and the lander will start sending back information until Rosetta’s batteries die or rubble coming from the comet irreversibly harms the complex instruments.
This mission is different from the one that NASA sent up in 2005. That was the Deep Impact probe mission which sent out a missile into a comet in order for scientists to be able to examine the resulting column of matter. NASA also was able to land a probe onto an asteroid back in 2001, but comets are much more unstable because they are constantly releasing particles and dust that are able to hurt a spacecraft.
NASA is working on yet another space mission to be held between 2019 and 2021. The agency is thinking about sending a robotic spaceship to rope a tiny asteroid and tug it near to the moon, where spacewalking astronauts could examine it.
All of these future plans are because of one phone home call, that scientists are finally reporting that the European Rosetta probe has finally sent back to Earth.
By Kimberly Ruble