You might have heard the news if you are a Curious Minded girl with an addiction to all things STEM!
Mark McCaughrean, ESA senior scientific advisor, said, “What a wonderful moment. We’re there, we’re arrived, 10 years we’ve been in the car waiting to arrive at scientific Disneyland.”
NASA announced, “After a decade-long journey chasing its target, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta, carrying three NASA instruments, became the first spacecraft to rendezvous with a comet.”
Rosetta set-off from earth in 2004 for it’s target: comet 67P.
A comet is a celestial object consisting of a nucleus of ice and dust. You often see them represented with a “tail” of gas when near the sun.
Rosetta is solar powered and in June 2011 the probe traveled so far out into the solar system that it suffered from a lack of solar power. Most of its systems had to be shut down for a two-and-a-half year hibernation!
The probe swung back towards the Sun in January this year and, after several tense moments, roused itself from it’s long nap.
Rosetta has slingshot around Earth three times and once around Mars.
NASA writes that, “comets are time capsules containing primitive material left over from the epoch when the sun and its planets formed.”
Newsweek added that Rosetta will, “provide a revealing glimpse back in time.”
You can view Rosetta’s first postcards on the European Space Agency’s website.