Saturday, October 1, 2016

Rosetta dies today, but their data is still alive – Daily News – Lisbon

Data collected by the probe, on a historic mission for the past 12 years, will be analyzed during the next decades. Rosetta “farewell” in Portuguese on Twitter.

The probe Rosetta “landed” today on the surface of comet 67P/Churiumov-Gerasimenko at 11.39, ending, thus, its space mission next to the one that was your companion in the last two years. Forty minutes after the shut down, at 12.19, the scientists of the European Space Agency received the signal of “end of mission”. But this only ends in space. On Earth, the data that have been collected over the last 12 years – and until the last minute – will be analyzed for decades.

The Rostetta “fired up” in various languages on Twitter, including the Portuguese.

Pedro Lacerda, a professor at Queen’s University Belfast and the researcher in the Astrophysics Research Centre, this was a historic mission. “It was the first time we have seen a comet so close, that we followed for a good part of the orbit, that we’ve seen how it changes when it approaches the Sun, we landed a zingarelho on its surface”, says the astrophysicist who studies the data from Rosetta, together with his phd student, Sebastian Lorek, who works at the Max Planck Institute for Research of the Solar System, in Göttingen. Until a short time ago, says the researcher, that were “things of the dream.”

The probe was launched in march 2004 and only ten years later it reached the comet 67P – which travels between the orbit of Jupiter and Earth. Went through a long period of hibernation, so that your waking up was, for Pedro Lacerda, one of the most memorable moments of the mission. This was followed by the collection of data. “The first pictures were fantastic. No one expected that the comet had a so weird [like a rubber duck],” he recalls. Months later, the module of the landing of the probe – the Philae – landed on comet. Another high point.

by the time of the collision with the comet, Rosetta will continue to send you important information. “We’re going to approach each time more. It is the first time that we will see the comet at a distance so interesting.” And it is at the “top of the head” that the probe will be. In this region, explains the professor, there is a kind of “gap cycle”, where it originated a significant number of jets of dust. But the phenomenon is still little known, so that the last pictures “will be very useful”.

Currently, work in the mission between a thousand to two thousand scientists, scattered all over the world. But, according to Pedro Lacerda, the amount of data collected is so large that it will continue to be studied in the next 20 to 30 years. “Who is born now and you want to be a scientist yet you will study data of Rosetta.”

Many of the data already reviewed came calling in question the thought. “Before the mission, I would say that the comets were made primarily of ice. It is now known that 20% is ice and the rest is dust”, explains the researcher. Another important finding noted was the presence of glycine. “Although you do not have organic matter, life, has amino acids.” This means that “the ingredients for life are there.” In addition, we have found “chemical compounds – Oxygen O2 -, which show that it formed at very low temperatures, difficult to achieve in the solar system”. And, when they discover a different water of the oceans, found that were not comets to bring water to the Land.


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