The Rosetta is a spacecraft that was designed for a mission to Mars. The mission type of Rosetta was a lander or comet orbiter. The spacecraft launch mass was orbiter 2.900 kg and lander 100 kg. The dimensions of the probe were 2.8 *2.1*2.0 m. It had a power of 850 watts at 3.4 AU. The spacecraft was launched from the Guiana Space Center. It was assembled by the European Space Agency (ESA) and was launched on 2nd March 2004. The name Rosetta is coined from the Rosetta Stone, of Egyptian source containing a declaration in three scripts. The idea of Rosetta was envisioned in the early 1980s. It was even before Giotto mission where a flyby was made on comet 1P/Halley. The achievement of Giotto mission inspired the scientists to strategize a follow-up mission. The Rosetta mission eventually became the follow-up mission. The Rosetta mission was to provide more information regarding the composition of the comet by sending its information to Earth.
What happened during the Rosetta mission?
Rosetta was expected to be launched on 12th of January 2003 to meet Comet 46P/Wirtanen in 2011, but this was not the case. The reason for this postponement was that during its launch, there was a malfunction of Ariane 5 carrier rocket. The scientists and engineers decided to ground the spacecraft until the problem was addressed. Despite the postponement of the launch of Rosetta spacecraft, the mission itself made history. The mission made history because of the following reasons:
- It was the first spacecraft that used solar cells to manage to fly close to the Jupiter orbit.
- It made its first encounter with old objects when Rosetta passed through the asteroid belt.
- It was the pioneer spacecraft to track a comet’s nucleus.
- It was the first spacecraft to observe the sun giving its warmth to a frozen comet.
- The spacecraft was the first to travel beside a comet as it was journeying the inner solar system.
- Its robotic lander gathered the first representations of the comet’s surface, and it did an analysis of the same.
Notable Results of Rosetta Mission
Other than making history, the Rosetta’s results were remarkable. Below are the outstanding results of Rosetta Mission:
- The scientists found that the magnetic field of 67P fluctuated at forty to fifty Millihertz. For people to hear a rendition, researchers sped up its signal 10,000 times. However, the landing of Philae displayed that comet nuclear lacked magnetic field. Its earlier detection of a magnetic field probably was a result of solar wind.
- Degradation of carbon dioxide and water molecules discharged from the comet nuclear are enabled by photoionization of water molecules by solar radiation. It is not photons from the sun as previously thought.
Rosetta spacecraft made its observation that Comet 67P isotopic signature of water vapor is distinct from that found on Earth. Further, it observed that the water from the comet ratio of deuterium to hydrogen is three times that in terrestrial water. Therefore, it is doubtful that water on Earth came from comets such as Comet 67P.
The purpose of the Rosetta mission was learning about the comet ‘s activities, characters of the nucleus and determining the chemical compound present. Rosetta’s mission period was around twelve years. After a decade, the managers of the mission decided to end it by directing Rosetta down the comet’s surface. The decision would end Rosetta’s mission by impact. On touching the comet’s surface, Rosetta turned off its radio transmitter complying with International Telecommunication Union rules.