After A Decade, Comet-Chasing Spacecraft Nearly There
Geoff Brumfiel on August 4th, 2014
It’s been a long journey, but it’s nearly over. On Wednesday, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft will finally arrive at the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Humans have sent spacecraft hurtling past comets before, but Rosetta is doing something very different. It’s sidling up next to 67P to join the big, dirty ice ball on its journey past the sun.
Matching 67P’s velocity and orbit has been tricky. Rosetta took a torturous, decade-long path that led it past earth three times and Mars once, as well as a couple of asteroids. Ahead of its final approach, it came at the comet from behind at about half-a-mile a second, before a series of braking maneuvers earlier this year.
“It was a fantastic achievement just to get this far, I think,” says Matt Taylor, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta’s project scientist.
With its final thruster burn on Wednesday, it will bring itself into perfect step with the comet.
Then the science will begin.
Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
This entry was posted in News from NPR
. Bookmark the permalink
While several big cities saw large protests after the decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson on Monday, Tuesday saw protests and blocked highways in at least 14 cities across the country.
After a stray dog met a team of Swedish adventure athletes in Ecuador, he ran for miles to stay with them. Now Arthur the dog is famous — and it all started with a meatball.
Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Mo., police officer who killed Michael Brown, says he has “a clean conscience” about the shooting; he also says he’s sorry for the loss of life.
Saying he understands the frustrations of people who feel they’re not treated fairly under the law, President Obama also said, “I have no sympathy at all for destroying your own communities.”
Some of those who attended planning meetings with local officials blamed police and the county attorney’s office for fueling the unrest by making the finding public at night and with little warning.