How The Rosetta Spacecraft Will Land A Probe On A Comet
On Monday 20th January 2014, the European Space Agency will set in motion the most incredible scientific mission since the Mars Curiosity Rover as they wake their Rosetta Spacecraft from its 3 year hibernation in deep space. Having travelled 418 million miles, Rosetta will begin an orbit of the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko before landing a probe on the 4km space rock in what will be the first ever comet landing.
Upon its awakening, Rosetta will carry out a number of system checks before turning to face Earth and giving the signal that it is back up and running. With its hibernation officially over, Rosetta will wait as Comet 67P - still over 5 million miles away - makes approaches the spacecraft's path. Once close enough, Rosetta will carry out a complex series of maneuvers that will see it enter an increasingly tight orbit of the comet.
The end goal for the Rosetta mission will be the release of the Philae probe which, it is hoped, will land on Comet 67P and begin gathering the first in-depth information about these abundant but mysterious objects.
For more on the incredible mission, visit the ESA's official website.