ESA Finalizes Rosetta’s Crash Date with Comet

The European Space Agency (ESA) has finalized the date on which Rosetta, the spacecraft that is currently in the orbit of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, will conclude its mission. The Philae robotic lander will get the company of the orbiter on September 30, 2016, when Rosetta team will make the orbiter fall straight down at high speed onto Comet 67P/C-G.

This might be the final opportunity for the spacecraft to collect important data and capture high-resolution pictures of the comet, which otherwise would not have been possible to obtain. The spacecraft took off from Earth on March 2, 2004, and on August 6, 2014, it entered the orbit of the comet, marking a significant achievement.

The comet follows a wide elliptical orbit and therefore, the agency had to be extremely cautious while deciding the speed of Rosetta and the intersection point of the spacecraft and Comet 67P/C-G. An array of significant information was provided by the Rosetta orbiter and the Philae lander on Comet 67P. The former captured images from its location in the comet’s orbit, while the latter transmitted data on the surface of the comet.

The information was instrumental in enhancing the general understanding of scientists on comets. At present, the comet is travelling back out in its orbit towards the furthermost point from the sun. As the distance from the sun has increased drastically, the amount of energy that can be gathered by the solar cells of Rosetta has alleviated.