The picture is blurred. Without having a scale, the landscape that you see can be a piece of sand with gravel or a large piece of land filled with boulders. Only the dryness is unquestionable. Are the words to accompany the picture in black and white that lend him clarity, meaning and emotion: "Of 67P with love: a final image, obtained from the 51 feet before landing on the comet. Mission accomplished." The original phrase, in English, have the particularities of writing for Twitter: a few dozens of characters, three hashtag, zero end points, ideas concise. But this entry from the account of the probe Rosetta that the social network says it all. The life-time of the apparatus of the European Space Agency (ESA) ended this Friday. The Rosetta landed on the comet 67P/Churiumov-Gerasimenko, and fell asleep, forever.
THE 67P will continue to make laps around the solar system. Since August 2014, when the Rosetta met with him, we know this comet with a detail unheard of. Never a device the human clung to the gravity of a comet to study it. Seen as a whole, 67P has two lobes – one larger and another smaller, which give him the air of a rubber duck and a pit at the tip. More closely, the surface of the comet is rough, made of cuts, with canyons, ravines, but also the plains, where there are rocks with feet in diameter.
With its 11 scientific instruments, the Rosetta has helped us understand this complex landscape, distant and mysterious. Until the end of his life, the spacecraft sent photographs and other scientific data about the comet. The final image posted on Twitter, despite having a low quality, also symbolizes this dialogue with the Earth. Their fruits are now in the hands of the astrophysicists of the ESA and other organizations that might be able to study in depth the 67P and try to find answers about the history of the solar system and our planet.
"The Rosetta came from the new in the history books," said Johann-Dietrich Wörner, director-general of the ESA, in a press release published this Friday by the ESA, shortly after having gotten the signal that the probe had closed his eyes. "Today we celebrate the success of a mission that has changed the way of doing things, a mission that has exceeded all our expectations and dreams." And that also made a dream, becoming one of the most iconic space missions.
Since it left the Earth on 2 March 2004, the Rosetta has come 7900 million kilometers. Part of them with the comet, whose orbit lies between Jupiter and a point between the Earth and Mars), accompanying it in its approximation to the closest point to the Sun, perihelion, in August 2015.
attached to the Rosetta, with 2900 pounds, came to the File, a robot 100 pounds. The File starred in November 2014 the conquest unprecedented (and bumpy) landing on the comet 67P. The robot, which however already slept in the same lobe small on which now rests the Rosetta, was ten scientific instruments and used them with success most of them during the roughly 60 hours that remained active, hidden in the shadows next to a ravine.
the data of The two devices allowed to find out that the 67P is an object made of dust, minerals, organic molecules and ice. The two lobes were formed, regardless, there are about 4600 million years ago, in a cold region and faraway solar system, when our corner of the Universe was at its beginning of life. The lobes were joined some time later. The water of the comet is of a different kind from that which exists on Earth, which means that the water on Earth is not from this type of comets.
The decision to bump the device on the comet is a sequence of the natural scientific character of the mission. During the last kilometres of the descent, the probe was commanded to measure the surface temperature, the density of the gas around the comet, the acceleration of the particles that are to be projected out of the 67P, the plasma, among other aspects.
On Thursday, at 21h50 (Lisbon time), a command triggered the probe for the maneuver of descent, the 19 km altitude. The region of Ma at, the lobe small comet, has been chosen to target. During the descent, the Rosetta was disseminating photographs and "talking" with us. "So close to the comet 67P… Now I know exactly how it is that the File if you have sense!", read the Twitter of the probe Rosetta, by 12h08, minutes before the end.
At 12h19 this Friday, in the Center of the Space Operations Committee, in Darmstadt, in Germany, the electronic signal of the Rosetta disappeared. The probe has stopped sending signal, there was silence. There was applause and hugs between the various scientists and technicians of the mission. For the second time in the history of space exploration, a probe landed on a comet.
"We just say goodbye to the probe," said Matt Taylor, an astrophysicist for the ESA, is the link between the scientific team and the operations team of this mission, to the PUBLIC. "The science of the mission will continue for many years. It is in this that we will concentrate from now on. It was for this reason that, in the first place, we have compiled this mission."