Saturday, October 1, 2016

Rosetta spacecraft's mission has ended

One of the last images of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken by Rosetta

The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft has ended its mission with an impact on the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta was launched in 2004 and reached the comet August 2014.  Two months later, Rosetta deployed Philae, the small lander, which made an unceremonious landing on the comet.  It took the first pictures ever of the surface of a comet.

ESA decided not to continue Rosetta's mission as the comet heads out beyond the orbit of Jupiter.  For one, the sun will be in the line of sight between Earth and Rosetta, making communications with the spacecraft difficult.  Also, there would be little power to operate the spacecraft.

The mission has been considered a major success.

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