Rosetta Flight seeks Extra-Terrestrial
Updated: Tuesday, August 12 2014, 12:31 AM CDT
The European Space Agency is monitoring a major breakthrough tonight.
A star-studded rendezvous in space ten years in the making.
The Rosetta Spacecraft launched a decade ago by the European Space Agency is about to enter the final phase of its mission. Flying around a comet and then landing on it.
Rosetta Flight Director Andre Accomazzo says "there are three steps before we are able to land. First, we have to get to the comet, we have to characterize the comet, learn how to fly around the comet, find a landing site, and then we are ready for landing"
If Rosetta is successful, it will be the first spacecraft to land on a comet, but its mission is already paying off. Earlier this month it sent back images that reveal significant details about the comet's size and composition. Now it's only about sixty miles away and getting closer.
Accomazzo says, "we start looking carefully at the comet and start building our models of the comet to be able to fly around it later on."
Scientists at the space agency are hoping the data collected by Rosetta will reveal more about the origins and evolution of our solar system. A goal shared by the many international space agencies which contributed to the project:
"NASA is providing significant support to the mission in terms of ground stations. We have colleagues doing parallel determination of the orbit of Rosetta in JPL and we are comparing continuously these trajectories. There is strong collaboration with our colleagues from the German space agency, the French space agency. It is a huge international collaboration."
Rosetta will be attempting to land on the 67-p comet which orbits the sun every six-and-a-half years.