All year we are following ESA’s Rosetta mission as the team hunts down a comet and then puts a lander on its surface. How are they progressing?
Jake and Armelle are in the clean room at ESA’s operations centre in Germany, testing commands on an exact copy of the spacecraft:
Jakub Urbanek, Rosetta Operations Engineer explains the role of the replica: “While Rosetta is flying far away we have a fully functional model here at ESOC that we can use to test out various things that we want to do.”
Armelle Hubault another engineer on the Rosetta project gives an insight into high-tech comet hunting: “We have a complete set of instruments on board Rosetta, which allow us to observe the comet from afar. We can monitor ultraviolet rays and infrared, etc.”
The detritus the comet sheds is also of interest to scientists,
Jake continues: “There will be things coming off the comet, but that’s also the point for some of the instruments, because a lot them analyse things as they impact the instrument.”
The team is hoping for some exciting discoveries: “The science is already underway, in fact one of the instruments, MIRO, has recently detected water on the comet, so that’s a pretty big thing for us as well, so we’re getting there,” says Jake.
He could not resist having a word with Rosette from terra firma:
“Dear Rosetta, just a couple more maneuvers, you’re almost there. We can’t wait to see what you’re seeing.”