Rosetta Mission Update: 12-Year Mission Ends On Sept. 30 Via Comet Landing, What's Next?

First Posted: Jul 04, 2016 10:38 AM EDT

Rosetta spacecraft, after 12 years of service, is scheduled to end its journey by landing on a comet. It had successfully achieved its ultimate mission of reaching an orbit in the vicinity of Comet 67P/Churyumov - Gerasimenko for the past years.

The European Space Agency stated that it will command Rosetta to crash on the comet it has been following since 2014. Rosetta was in a 31-month hibernation for its long journey in 2011, but now, the spacecraft will be riding along with the comet, ESA reported. Approximately 850 million kilometers from the Sun, the two solar arrays on Rosetta is unable to generate enough power to assure that the function of Rosetta's heaters will be working properly at a far distance.

On 2014, the Rosetta team of engineers believed that putting Rosetta into a long hibernation would not be an ideal state of survival. This observation has led the engineers to program the spacecraft to proceed its Philae lander on the surface of the comet.

ESA Rosetta project scientist Matt Taylor commented that the team will try to grasp as much observation and information as possible before Rosetta loses its solar power. On Sept. 30, Rosetta is targeted to move towards Jupiter's orbit. Expectedly, this will result in a significant reduction of solar power available to propel the spacecraft and reduce the bandwidth available for scientists to receive, Space Flight Now reported.

Rosetta's end is coming, but Taylor stated that it would be the start of the team's focus on science. He added that they look forward to the future of analyzing the data that Rosetta will be bringing over.

Rosetta, during its last hours of the decent, will try to capture a few high-resolution images of the comet while concomitantly collecting other data on Comet 67P. Scientists are anticipating to have communication with Rosetta until the end of its final descent.

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