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ESA’s Rosetta Probe Will Wake Up And Head For A Comet Next Month

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rosettaEarlier this month, NASA ended the short retirement of the asteroid hunter NEOWISE, putting it back on the prowl. Meanwhile, the European Space Agency (ESA) will soon see one of their own long-quiet spacecraft coming back to life, as the Rosetta Lander will soon wake up from its deep slumber to bring its 10-year mission to its long-awaited next step: performing the first ever soft landing on a comet. The next time someone tells me I’m taking too long to do something, I’m going to refer them to the Rosetta before getting back to my ice cream mountain climbing.

Rosetta launched back in March 2004, on a mission to reach and study in detail the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, or Churyumov-Gerasimenko for short. It performed a Mars flyby back in 2007 and a flyby of the asteroids 2867 ┼áteins and 21 Lutetia in 2008 and 2010, respectively, sending back images of both. It went into hibernation mode in 2011 and will stay that way until January 20, 2014, when it will set a direct course for the comet, which it is expected to reach at some point in August. It will then float around in a mapping orbit for the next few months. We all know there’s nothing more exciting than a mapping orbit, right?