The historic Rosetta mission has finally come to an end. Over the past two years, the probe's many instruments have scanned virtually every nook and cranny of this weirdly shaped rock, unleashing a treasure trove of new information about comets in general, and 67P/Churyumov — Gerasimenko in particular.
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The Rosetta spacecraft has spent three years peering at Comet 67P/Churyumov — Gerasimenko from orbit — but this week, its watch will end. On September 30, Rosetta begins a controlled descent to its final resting place on the edge of an enormous pit, where it will remain frozen until the space rock itself is destroyed, or until the universe expands into oblivion.
In two weeks, the European Space Agency will crash-land its prized Rosetta spacecraft, marking a dramatic end to the whirlwind two-year science mission that saw humanity's first-ever comet landing. It will be 48 action-packed hours as Rosetta descends to its ultimate resting place on Comet 67P — and to get you properly excited for that event, we wanted to share the fascinating reason this site was chosen.
In the shadow of a cliff on an icy rock 700 million kilometres from Earth, a washing machine-sized robot by the name of Philae has spent the last two years in hibernation. We'd already given up hope of speaking with humanity's first and only comet lander ever again, and time was running out to catch a final, fleeting glimpse of the beloved craft. In the eleventh hour, science prevailed.
Seventy-one days from now, the Rosetta spacecraft will end its historic mission by crashing onto the surface of its target, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Mission planners have now selected the spacecraft's final, mission-ending destination — and it's a good one.
Set yourself a reminder for September 30 — that's when the Rosetta spacecraft will make a controlled descent and crash on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. After 12 years in space and nearly two years circling around this dusty, weirdly-shaped comet, this historic mission is finally coming to an end.
If you thought a comet that contains the building blocks of life and creates its own weather couldn't get any more interesting, think again. Scientists finally have a theory as to why comet 67P — also known as Rosetta's comet — has two distinct lobes. It's actually two distinct comets, which break up, orbit one another and smash together again and again for all of cometary eternity. And despite how strange this relationship sounds, it may be a lot more common than we thought.
Millions of people around the globe were enthralled when the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft successfully landed on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November 2014. Artist Ekaterina Smirnova was one of them — so much so that she has created an entire series of giant watercolour paintings inspired by the comet.