The European Space Agency (ESA) is today performing a challenging operation, waking up the comet-chasing spacecraft Rosetta after 957 days of hibernation.
The waking-up manoeuvre has commenced today at 10am GMT with Rosetta’s internal clock turning on its internal computers. The spacecraft will require up to seven hours to warm up its star-tracking navigation system, fire its rocket thrusters in order to slow down its spin to be able to turn on a transmitter and beam a message to the Earth. Controllers at ESA’s European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, hope to confirm the spacecraft has been successfully resuscitated by 6pm GMT today.
Rosetta, launched in 2004, is currently located some 500 million miles away from the Earth near Jupiter and heads toward a 2.4-mile in diameter comet known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Later this year, in an unprecedented manoeuvre, the spacecraft will not only sail by the comet, but will insert itself into its orbit and drop a lander to the comet’s surface.
E&T News covered this story in depth today, so read the full story of the adventures of the somnambulist spacecraft Rosetta.