Landing Success

| December 9, 2014 | 0 Comments

November 12th, 2014, ten years after a shuttle, Rosetta, was shot from Earth to track Comet 67P and land on it, finally was grounded to the icy rock. A live webcast and site tracked the shuttle’s process in full detail, and it’s communicating with us about it’s findings.

The process took a very long time. Ten years to get to the comet, as it raced it to the sun, then took orbit around the comet. After it took upon a stable orbit, the shuttle used thrusters to align itself with the comet’s path, then deployed the Philae probe. The small lander, Rosetta’s Philae probe, touched down, and deployed it’s anchors onto the comet seven hours later.

The probe was equipped with the anchors used to keep it grounded to the comet. It also had a drill on it’s back end, used for drilling into the comet and retrieving mineral and liquid samples. The lander kept a small station used to analyze and send data of the minerals to the communications center back at home.

However, the lander’s anchors may not have connected to the comet. After a small harpoon failure, the probe may have bounced right after it landed, causing two landings, rather than one. Comet 67P has extremely weak gravity, so the harpoons were designed to ground the small lander, but Philae may not be secure.

Comet 67P is currently 500 million kilometers away from Earth, which is why it took Rosetta so long to get to the frigid ball. The probe will stay on Comet 67P during it’s trip around the sun. This mission will help us understand comets, and how our solar system, galaxy, and maybe even the universe, was formed.

Why is landing on a comet so important about learning of how we came to be? Think of the water and rock cycles on Earth, and how new water and rocks are being processed from old water and rocks every day. We can’t use our own planet, unless we dig far into the mantle, and even then, it’s too boiling far down to explore our own planet. We thought that when we went to the moon and took samples from there, we might find rock that was very, very old, but that was not the case.

When we returned home with moon rocks, we found that the moon was made of the exact same elements that Earth was. A theory about this has already been thought up, and it turned out that it may have been true. The “Giant impact hypothesis,” describes why this may have happened. Back when the solar system was first forming, tons of tiny earth-like planets were rushing about the sun, with molten surfaces. Earth was one of the biggest, but had a twin. Theia was a planet that shared Earth’s orbit, and the two were on a collision course. When they collided, a large chunk of our planet was ripped into orbit around us in tiny pieces. It took a long time, but eventually, it all converged into a single satellite, known as the moon.

Only comets, the time capsules of the universe, hold metals and chemicals from when the solar system was first formed. This is due to the fact that comets are frozen, therefore, everything within them is preserved. Comets are the reason that Earth has water, and maybe even life. All we can do now is wait for the data that could hold the answers to new life, the origins of the universe, and the oldest rock out there.

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Category: News, Science News

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I am Jude Ulibarri, also known as Clear. So naive and innocent they said of me. Not to realize, not to recognize, there's a darker side breaking out. I am far beyond salvation. Pride is why I never let my soul become unclean. ~♫ Clear ♫

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