ESA prepares to wake comet hunting Rosetta spacecraft

Shane McGlaun - Dec 11, 2013, 7:23 am CST
ESA prepares to wake comet hunting Rosetta spacecraft

The European Space Agency (ESA) is getting ready to wake up its comet hunting spacecraft called Rosetta. Rosetta has been in hibernation for 31 months as it prepared for its main mission. Rosetta launched in 2004 and has spent its time this far zipping around the Sun, gaining speed.

So far, the spacecraft has made five trips around the sun, gaining the speed needed each time to reach its target. The final target for Rosetta is a comet called comet 67p/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The ESA put Rosetta into hibernation mode for the coldest leg of its trip as it traveled towards the orbit of Jupiter, which is where the spacecraft has been the last 31 months.

Rosetta is expected to reach its target comet in August of 2014. In November of 2014, Rosetta will put its Philae lander onto the surface of the comet. The ESA says that the internal alarm clock for the Rosetta spacecraft is set for 10:00 GMT on January 20, 2014.

Several hours after the spacecraft wakes up and warms up, it should establish contact with the Earth. The video above shows some of the steps that the spacecraft will go though during its wakeup process.


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