Rosetta Comet Mission and The Open University
"The point though is not merely to watch the comet from a safe distance, but to get down on the ground and actually touch the object." - Professor Ian Wright, The Open University
The Rosetta spacecraft is preparing to launch lander Philae to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Wednesday 12th November, and The Open University has played a significant role in the 10 year journey so far.
The OU has created an instrument onboard Philae named Ptolemy, which is specialised for the analysis of "so-called light elements, compromising carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen". During the Rosetta hibernation, Ptolemy had been asleep for over 3 years at a temperature of -60 degrees C, and it was awoken after both the spacecraft and lander earlier in 2014.
After 10 years in the making, the landing is now just around the corner. See below for extensive coverage of the Rosetta mission from across The Open University.
5 questions answered from the Rosetta Mission
Professor Ian Wright on the Rosetta Mission
How Rosetta's lander works
A close-up look at the Philae lander
How do we land on a comet? (with augmented reality)
A timeline of deep-space comet encounters
60 second adventures in Astronomy
Rosetta and Philae landing timeline
Credit: ESA/ATG medialab (Image source with additional details).
"The biggest question that we are trying to get an answer to is: where did life on Earth come from?" - Professor Monica Grady, The Open University
Find out more about Science degrees at The Open University.