The Rosetta Probe: Comet-Chaser

Rosetta Probe
Rosetta Probe

I am not sure why I feel so proud that the European Space Agency has hatched this incredible project.  But I do.

It was ten years ago, on 2 March 2004, that the Rosetta probe was launched into space.  Its mission: to go to the outer reaches of our solar system, get into orbit with an icy comet and then send a landing device to gather information from it.  It had three gravity assist fly-bys with Earth and one with Mars before going into hibernation and waking up in early 2014.  If all goes as planned, Philae, will land on the comet on 12 November, 2014

Here is a fantastical, fictional film by Tomek Baginski about the Rosetta Probe and comets.

The Rosetta Mission was named after the ‘Rosetta Stone’ which is a fragment of Egyptian stone tablet which unlocked the secret to hieroglyphics for the first time.

Rosetta will study the organic, icy material in comets in great details. It is believed this could unlock secrets of the Solar System such as how the earth became a watery planet?   Comets are the most primitive building blocks of our cosmic world, surviving the Solar System’s chaotic 4.6 billion year history more or less intact.

Philae, the landing vehicle, is named for the island on the River Nile where an obelisk with found with bi-lingual Greek and hieroglyphic inscriptions similar to the Rosetta Stone.

So look to the night sky on the 12th November.  Who knows.  You might be able to see something of this miraculous comet-chaser if you look hard enough.