Rosetta continues the journey towards the Sun
The moment of closest approach will take place on August 13, 2015, when it will pass 183 million kilometers from our parent star in an orbit between Earth and Mars. The technicians of the ESA continue to analyze data from different instruments on board and the images sent by the probe.
There are “only” 429 million kilometers that separate the probe and ESA Rosetta comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko from the Sun. The probe was launched 10 years ago from the Earth is now far away from the planet by 522 million kilometers, so that the radio signal with which the data captured to the control center in Darmstadt, Germany, employs less than 29 minutes and 2 seconds to travel this distance.
When Rosetta was located 30 kilometers from the comet 67 / P and on the social network, in 140 characters, the scientists have announced that they will seek to reduce its orbit to 20 miles away. The meeting at perihelion (the closest approach to the Sun) will take place on August 13, 2015, when it will pass 183 million kilometers from our parent star in an orbit between Earth and Mars.
The ESA mission will go on until the last days of the year 2015, when the comet will be found to 2 astronomical units from the Sun during the removal. The experts, however, suggest that the solar panels that are attached to the probe will have energy for another two astronomical units and that means that we can follow the comet until mid-2016 and then losing it altogether. Over the coming months, during any stage of escort, the instruments aboard the orbiter will carry out measures to monitor the activity of the nucleus and to study the changes that the erosive activity induces morphological structures on the surface. To put it simply: 67P as it approaches the Sun will be able to finally see its “tail”, which so fascinates his viewers. The technicians also hope that in steps approaching the Sun is able to recharge the batteries of Philae in such a way that we can awaken and resume his mission on 15 November.
The instruments aboard the lander have done little but their duty and experts continue to analyze the data. At 16:20 GMT on 12 November (time of landing) the lander may have collided with an obstacle on the surface of the comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko, very likely with the edge of a crater. To say it is Hans-Ulrich Auster, co-principal investigator of ROMAP (Magnetometer Rosetta and Philae Plasmamonitor onboard) of the Technical University of Braunschweig (Germany). This tool (one of the 10 on board the gem ESA) is used by researchers and engineers to rebuild the trajectory that followed Philae during landing: there are exploited the weak magnetic fields produced by electrical circuits of Rosetta and Philae that can be precious as gold to shed light into the mystery of the descent and the exact location of the lander (still do not know where it is).
The scientists were able to draw a roadmap of what happened that day. The separation from the mother Rosetta probe was confirmed by the decay of magnetic as Philae flew it away: at that time the lander made a rotating on itself every 5 minutes. The feet landing were successfully positioned causing an increase of the rotation period to 8.5 minutes. During the long 7 hours of downhill all the measures were “nominal” (as they say in the jargon) and ROMAP recorded the first contact at 15:34:04 GMT (time onboard). As mentioned obviously the signal then took a further 28 minutes to reach Earth and was confirmed at 16:03 GMT.