December 10, 2013
ESA Says Its Time To ‘Wake Up Rosetta’ And It Wants Your Help
[ Watch the video: Rosetta's 12 Year Journey In Space ]
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The European Space Agency (ESA) is kicking off a “Wake Up Rosetta” campaign to celebrate the end of its comet-chasing spacecraft’s 31-month-long hibernation.
Rosetta is nearing its final destination, comet 67P Churyumov–Gerasimenko, after spending nearly a decade traveling towards it. The spacecraft will be rendezvousing with the comet in August 2014 and subsequently send its Philae lander to the comet’s surface.
ESA put Rosetta to sleep during the coldest leg of the mission in which the spacecraft traveled out towards the orbit of Jupiter. Rosetta is positioned to wake up from its deep-space hibernation on January 20, after which it will be reestablishing communication with Earth.
The space agency is inviting the public to mark this important milestone in the Rosetta mission by asking everyone to share a video clip of themselves shouting “Wake up, Rosetta!” Two of the top ten video authors will be invited to ESA’s control center in Darmstadt, Germany for the VIP event celebrating the first-ever comet landing in November of next year.
“Be creative and imaginative – you can include friends, family, colleagues, members of your team, social clubs, and school groups, or even put together a flash mob to create a memorable video shout,” ESA said in a statement about the event.
All of the top ten videos will be transmitted with 20,000 Watts of power towards Rosetta and out into the Universe through one of ESA’s deep-space tracking stations. Eligible participants in the top ten will also receive a complimentary gift bag that includes a selection of ESA souvenirs.
The “Wake Up, Rosetta!” campaign launches today and will continue up until the spacecraft’s day of awakening. The two winning entries will be announced four days later, and the top ten videos will be transmitted into space in February.
Rosetta is not only going to deliver the first lander to a comet, but it is also going to be the first spacecraft to orbit the nucleus of a comet. The spacecraft will be escorting comet 67 as it makes it approach of the sun, allowing scientists to understand what happens with comets during perihelion.
“Comets are considered to be the primitive building blocks of the Solar System, and likely helped to ‘seed’ Earth with water, and perhaps even life. By studying the nature of the comet’s dust and gas, Rosetta will help scientists learn more about the role of comets in the evolution of the Solar System,” ESA said in a statement.
For the past year, astronomers had been following Comet ISON as it made its close approach with the sun. Scientists knew it was about a 50/50 shot that the comet would survive, and they predicted that if it did it would have been an incredible sight for backyard astronomers. However, the latest news on Comet ISON is that it did not survive perihelion.
Spacecraft like Rosetta will be able to bring more insight into what happens as comets approach perihelion with the sun. And maybe it can shed some light on what happened when Comet ISON met its match on Thanksgiving Day.