Rosetta Completes 10-Year Trip into Deep Space

256px-RosettaThe European spacecraft Rosetta reached its final destination on a 10-year trip into deep space. According to the European Space Agency, they launched the probe in 2004 to orbit the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet and collect information about the mass of dirty ice, dust and gas. They will send a smaller landing craft down onto the comet in November to take additional measurements.

Scientists are studying comets to learn about the early evolution of the solar system when the planets were forming 4.6 billion years ago. They are also searching for organic molecules that comets may have brought to Earth in its early years that represent building blocks for life.

Zintro expert Juan C. Hernandez Diaz has over 30 years of experience in High Reliability Space applications. He says, “Indeed Rosetta will give a lot of information to the Science Community; furthermore, it will consolidate the Technical and Engineering approach for the development of this type of satellites, in particular to what relates to electronics to be used in Space Applications. In the case of Rosetta, after 10 years in semi-dormant mode, and now being requested to operate at its full performance after being subject to all type of radiation in space, it is a clear example where reliability is the driver. ‘Electronics for Space Applications’ is an area where ESA and the European Space Community need to spend more efforts in order to become autonomous, independent and increase reliability.”

Meir Moalem is a space systems expert and the CEO of MultiModis – Strategic Technology Consulting. He explains, “Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft reached its final destination. Rosetta demonstrates an amazing technological achievement: to navigate successfully to a comet more than 400 million kilometers from Earth (almost 3 times the distance to the Sun), orbiting the Sun 5 times and completing a more than 6 billion kilometers journey – is a fine example of excellent astro-mechanics calculations and execution, of reliable and robust design for long duration space missions. To do that in a mission of over ten years, without major failures is even more impressive. Not only it is a technological (and scientific) achievement, it also shows that a true vision is required for space exploration – the mission took ten years, but it was planned and approved a decade earlier (in 1993).

“On the scientific side, no doubt there are important measurements and analysis that will be done once Rosetta completes its rendezvous, landing a probe on Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet, adding to the already important science collected on the route. We will know a lot more on the structure and compositions of similar comets which are not rare within the solar system and gain important science related to the solar system early days. But even more important in my opinion is the fact that Humanity is taking another step towards the stars. The Rosetta mission lessons can be used when planning additional missions to the asteroid belt – missions which are envisioned for commercial purposes such as rare metals mining and more.

“Rosetta, even though a decade in space, has yet to reach the pinnacle of its mission: the successful landing of a comet lander (probe) and the “field experiments”. We certainly have something to look forward to.”

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