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article imageRosetta comet set to crash-land

By Tim Sandle     Jul 1, 2016 in Science
The European Space Agency has announced the countdown to the end of the Rosetta Comet space probe. The probe will be crash-landed on Comet 67P on Friday, September 30, 2016.
Rosetta is the name of a space probe, designed by the European Space Agency. The probe was launched in March 2004, from Guiana Space Center in French Guiana, together with its landing module, Philae. The mission was to study a comet called 67P (full name: Churyumov–Gerasimenko 67P). The cost of the mission was around 1.3-billion-euro ($1.4-billion.)
On its way to rendezvous with the comet, the probe passed Mars and asteroids 21 Lutetia and 2867 Šteins, providing some captivating images. The reason for moving close to the red planet was to obtain a Mars gravity assist (flyby), designed to propel the probe towards the comet target. In addition to these near-object events, Rosetta became the first spacecraft to fly close to Jupiter's orbit using solar cells as its main power source. After this, the spacecraft entered deep-space hibernation mode before being re-activated in January 2014.
Capturing the imagination of the public (as shown by the steady flow of social media posts), the probe landed on the icy surface of the comet in August 2014, sending back data. This provided the first detailed analysis of the surface of a comet.
Now the space probe's exploits are drawing to an end. The final 'mission' will be a crash-landing into the very body that it has been observing. This is impact into the 4 kilometer-wide ball of ice is designed to destroy the probe and bring its mission to an end.
According to the BBC, in September Rosetta will enter into a tight elliptical orbit around the comet. Instructions will then be sent for the probe to reduce its periapsis (lowest pass) progressively. There will be a final burn which will send the probe on a collision course with irregularly shaped comet.
More about rosetta comet, Comet, Rosetta, Space
 
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