The planning of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission to hunt down a comet is a complex web of commands, actions, cross-checks and verification.
Nothing is left to chance, and one of those who is tasked with making sure that the spacecraft hits its rendezvous this year with comet 67-P Churyumov–Gerasimenko is Polish-Canadian Operations Engineer Jakub Urbanek.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking at times. You have to pay close attention to the details,” he says.
“The team is fantastically cohesive, and we do a good job of working through things one by one.”
“The spacecraft is sort of the bus that carries all this stuff inside of it, and those instruments are what provide us the science, we have to turn on instrument by instrument, and check to make sure that they’re healthy, and ready to go for the comet phase,” Urbanek explains.
So, what is his message to Rosetta?
“Dear Rosetta, we’re planning some exciting payload operations for you in the next few weeks, so please stay healthy and ready for your date with the comet,” he smiles.