It is back to work for Rosetta the European Space Agency’s comet exploration probe.
It will have little time for any Monday morning blues as it starts an unprecedented mission to orbit and land on the comet Churyumov – Gerasimenko.
Rosetta began its voyage when it was launched aboard an Ariane 5 rocket in 2004 and was deliberately powered down three years ago in readiness for this mission.
It is the first time a spacecraft will rendezvous with a comet and then track its journey.
“The biggest challenge is on the spacecraft itself as to stop the rotation, to stop the hibernation, to regain knowledge of where it is, where it is pointing and actually drive itself and the antenna to point to the earth and only then can we get the signal and see that it is back,” explained Andrea Accomazzo ESA Spacecraft Operations Manager.
Rosetta has on board a lander called Philae. It should approach the comet in May and fire a couple harpoons into it so it doesn’t bounce away.
Scientists hope the mission will provide more clues about how the solar system came into existence.
The spacecraft will spend more than a year studying the comet at close range.
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