The European space probe Rosetta successfully performed a maneuver that allows him to fly past a comet, making it the first spacecraft to achieve it.
Línea de tiempo del viaje de Rosetta al cometa 67P. La sonda fue lanzada en marzo de 2004 desde Kourou en Guyana Francesa. En enero de 2014, después de 3 años de hibernación, Rosetta se despertó para perseguir a su cometa
La sonda espacial europea Rosetta realizó con éxito una maniobra que le permite volar junto a un cometa, lo que la convierte en la primera nave en conseguirlo.
Las misiones anteriores sólo han logrado pasar los cometas a alta velocidad.
"Estamos ahí", dijo Sylvain Lodiot, director de operaciones de la sonda de la Agencia Espacial Europea (ESA), al confirmar que la nave se encontró con el cometa 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko. "La nave volará una órbita artificial muy cerca del cometa a una distancia de pocos kilómetros y estudiará el entorno del cometa y su núcleo", dijo la ESA en un comunicado.
Después de una década de viajar a través del espacio, Rosetta tiene como objetivo orbitar el cometa durante al menos un año con el objetivo de determinar si los cometas trajeron el agua y el carbono vital para la vida en la Tierra. También tratará de desplegar un módulo de aterrizaje sobre su superficie helada.
El hito en la exploración espacial ocurre a casi 500 millones de kilómetros de la Tierra.
Experts watch their screens at the control center of the European Space Agency in Darmstadt, Germany. Mission controllers had to wait an nail-biting 22 minutes to know that the manoeuvre had been successful
Los expertos de la Agencia Espacial Europea en Darmstadt, Alemania, ven sus pantallas en el centro de control: tuvieron que esperar unos 22 minutos mordiendose las uñas para saber que la maniobra había sido un éxito
EXCLUSIVE Q&A WITH MISSION DIRECTOR PAOLO FERRI
How was the mood at mission control today?
We’ve been extremely busy from the weekend until yesterday, with all the commands were sent to the probe yesterday.
Today we were purely monitoring the pictures and the scientific data. It was an offline activity for us. We were relatively relaxed, and fortunately everything went well.
What do you think of the latest images from Rosetta?
Today was relaxed and only when I saw those pictures my emotions came back.
It is confirmation we are there. Those pictures, I should say, are absolutely incredible.
We went through them in detail and they showed us incredible features. We can only guess right now what they could be.
Which features were you most excited about?
I was impressed on the neck that connects the parts there is a side of a mountain.
It’s like looking at the Alps on a very high wall. This is incredible. It makes you feel like you want to climb it.
And on one of the few areas that seem to be flat there are boulders 20-30 metres wide, they look like houses.
They are there in complete isolation. In the coming days we can say more about what these features are.
What are Rosetta’s plans now it is in orbit?
In the coming two weeks we will not get closer to the comet, but our new objective is to determine gravitational potential of the comet.
In the second half of August we will go to 50 km there will to resolve features of the surface. And later on in September we will go to 20-30km.
I feel super happy because we are there. If I look at the amount of data we have collected 1000 times more data than the history of cometary space flight.
The most difficult phase of the mission starts now. It’s not real space flight, it’s something very peculiar.
We have to know how to fly in this environment and we have to categorise it. It’s like trying to take pictures with a camera while you’re learning to ride a bike.
What’s your take on the criticism of Esa for not releasing more images?
I think there has been a decent compromise reached. The scientific images are the property of the scientists for 6 months, but they are releasing them as well as explanations with a relatively low frequency – perhaps a couple of times a week.
In the meantime we will increasing release of NavCam pictures, which also show very nice images of the comet.
Close up detail focusing on a smooth region on the 'base' of the 'body' section of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The image was taken by Rosetta's OSIRIS narrow-angle camera and downloaded today