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Rosetta’s last words: science descending to a comet

15 Dec 2016, 14:00 UTC
Rosetta’s last words: science descending to a comet
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

On 30 September 2016, at 11:19:37 UT in ESA’s mission control, Rosetta’s signal flat-lined, confirming that the spacecraft had completed its incredible mission on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko some 40 minutes earlier and 720 million km from Earth. Rosetta was working up to the very end, collecting reams of science data as it descended towards a region of pits in the Ma’at region on the comet’s ‘head’.
Before we ‘retire’ the blog, we wanted to catch up with the instrument teams following this grand finale to find out how their instruments performed and if there were any surprises in Rosetta’s last ‘words’ from the comet.
Rosetta touched down just 33 m away from the target point, as indicated by the green descent trajectory line. The inner circle has a radius of 50 m and the concentric circles around the centre are spaced by increments of 50 m. Credit: ESA
First a reminder of the impact site: Rosetta was targeting a point within a 700 x 500 m ellipse, between two pits in the Ma’at region. Reconstruction of the final descent trajectory showed that the spacecraft touched down at 10:39:34 UT at the comet, only 33 metres away from the ...

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