Space is a vast place.  It is the biggest thing that humans can imagine and for years we have wanted to travel to the stars and explore our universe; this involves a great deal of hard work.  NASA have been trying for years, but thats not say that the Europeans will be outdone.   The European Space Agency is well aware of just how much work goes into exploring our vast and wondrous galaxy and their Rosetta comet exploration probe is testimony to that.

The probe will have no time for anything other that to begin its difficult and arduous mission.  It has started an unprecedented objective, to orbit and land on the comet Churyumov – Gerasimenko.   This journey for the Rosetta probe began its voyage when it was launched aboard an Ariane 5 rocket, ten years ago in 2004.  The probe was deliberately powered down three years ago in readiness for this particular mission.  This is the first time a spacecraft will rendezvous with a comet in all of space exploration history.  The probe will attaché itself to and then track, the comets journey.


Andrea Accomazzo ESA Spacecraft Operations Manager explained “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,”

Rosetta has on board, a lander called Philae. It should approach the comet in a few months time, May in fact, and fire a couple of harpoons into the comet’s rugged surface, so it doesn’t recoil away.  Space scientists are hoping the difficult mission will provide more information about how the solar system came into existence.  The Rosetta prove spacecraft will spend more than a year studying the comet in close proximity.

[Image via esa]