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IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON -Waking up Rosetta: researcher chats about involvement in comet-chasing mission

January 21, 2014

ENP Newswire - 21 January 2014

Release date- 20012014 - If you struggled to get out of bed this morning, spare a thought for the Rosetta spacecraft, due to wake today after 31 months hibernating in space.

The European Space Agency spacecraft was launched back in 2004 and is aiming to land on a comet - an unprecedented feat - in November 2014. Rosetta has travelled so far away from the sun that its solar panels were not receiving enough energy to keep all its electrical systems going, so it has been asleep for 957 days in order to preserve vital energy. But now, as Rosetta drifts towards comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, there is enough energy to awake the spacecraft from its slumber and start to warm up its fuel tanks and navigation instruments.

Comets can reveal much about the key processes that formed our Solar System and could provide vital clues about how life on earth began. Rosetta's rendezvous with the comet should help tackle big questions such as whether comets brought water to earth.

Chris Carr, Senior Research Lecturer in the Department of Physics, has spearheaded the College's involvement in Rosetta since 1996, leading the design and production of a unit that controls the plasma sensors on the spacecraft. As one of the Principal Investigators of the Rosetta mission, he leads the operation of the Rosetta Plasma Consortium.

In this audio interview, Gail Wilson speaks to Chris Carr about Rosetta's voyage of discovery and his involvement in the mission.


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Source: ENP Newswire

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