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Rosetta Probe Awakens, Prepares To Chase Comet

Soulskill posted about 9 months ago | from the cue-benny-hill-music dept.

Space 72

sciencehabit writes "The European comet-chasing probe Rosetta is up and running again today after it successfully roused itself from a 2½-year sleep and signaled anxious controllers on the ground. The spacecraft had been put into hibernation during the most distant part of its 10-year journey in pursuit of comet 67 P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko because sunlight was too dim to keep its solar-powered systems running. Dozing in a slow stabilizing spin, Rosetta could not receive signals from the ground, so there was a risk that some problem might prevent it from responding to its preset alarm call at 10:00 GMT. Even then, there were many processes to go through before news reached Earth: The spacecraft's heaters would need to warm up its systems, its startrackers get a fix, boosters halt the spin, solar arrays turn towards the sun, and, finally, its communications antenna would need to point at Earth. It was not till 18:18 GMT that the signal was picked up by NASA's ground stations at Goldstone, California, and Canberra in Australia, and transmitted to the European Space Agency's (ESA's) control center at Darmstadt in Germany."

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Everything about this mission is a miracle (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46027859)

The spacecraft wasn't designed to operate that far out in space and it wasn't designed to handle the comet it's chasing. That anything about the mission is going well at all since they blew their initial launch window and had to retarget [spacedaily.com] is a miracle.

Re: Everything about this mission is a miracle (2)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about 9 months ago | (#46027969)

Kudos to the over-enginnering and the respect to the murphy factor :-)

Re: Everything about this mission is a miracle (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about 9 months ago | (#46028239)

It's gonna be a lot harder to beat the NASA precedent of 10 years for a 3 months mission.
Making it through its 6.45 years orbit would be quite a show.

Re: Everything about this mission is a miracle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46028371)

It's not a competition.

Re: Everything about this mission is a miracle (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about 9 months ago | (#46028521)

Only if you're not competing.
I'm sure untold billions are being spent just because we need new techniques to make expensive ice cream.

Being the first to make a fancy maneuver around a comet, dig a hole on Mars, or observe a solar eruption isn't cheap. It's financed by people looking for a payoff, in future cash or instant ego.

Re: Everything about this mission is a miracle (1)

JustOK (667959) | about 9 months ago | (#46029367)

mmmmmm, Cosmic Comet Crunch ice cream

Re: Everything about this mission is a miracle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46037189)

Cynical much? While cynicism is quite prevalent here, so is dreaming. So, you are wrong. There are those of us who would do these things for other benefits.

Re:Everything about this mission is a miracle (5, Insightful)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | about 9 months ago | (#46027983)

...is a miracle.

No. It's a successful exercise at fault tolerance.

Re:Everything about this mission is a miracle (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46028147)

That anything about the mission is going well at all is a miracle.

You keep using that word, I am not sure it means what you think it means.

Good engineering is not a miracle. It's sometimes rare and difficult, but it isn't a 'miracle'.

Re:Everything about this mission is a miracle (4, Funny)

Metabolife (961249) | about 9 months ago | (#46028379)

You've obviously never written 1000 lines of code and had it just "work" the first time. That's a miracle.

Re:Everything about this mission is a miracle (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033571)

I never like that. There should be at least a couple simple stupid misplaced commas or something.

Long code working instantly makes me nervous.

Re:Everything about this mission is a miracle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46034045)

When I was a kid, I didn't have a computer, so I used to write everything on paper and then typed it when I had access to one. Not sure what was my biggest program made this way, but certainly more than 1000 lines of code and yes, several times it didn't have a single bug.

Does this mean... OMG! I'm Jesus!

(OK, I admit it was mostly assembly, so you may consider this as not a real miracle.)

Re:Everything about this mission is a miracle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46037235)

Doesn't count as the first time, if you type it, or write it twice. You're not Jesus, but you're not a software developer either, if you don't already know that. I can tell you're not a software developer from your parenthetical statement.

Re:Everything about this mission is a miracle (1)

cusco (717999) | about 9 months ago | (#46029311)

Oh, no, this is certainly a miracle. The miracle is that politicians actually budgeted sufficient money to carry out a program that wouldn't complete until after their term in office had ended. If Congress had been told that Opportunity's mission was going to last a decade the funding would never have been approved.

Re:Everything about this mission is a miracle (4, Interesting)

cusco (717999) | about 9 months ago | (#46029365)

Yeah, I know, replying to myself. I can't help remembering Voyager's 'Grand Tour' to the outer planets. Congress refused to approve a mission of that extent, instead NASA had to package it as a much shorter mission to Jupiter and Saturn. They (rather sneakily, for a government bureaucracy) launched during the only window that would allow the Grand Tour, and then went after supplemental funding for the supposedly "extended mission" they had planned for all along. Still amazes me that the Shrub White House tried to cancel the miniscule cost of continuing to monitor the spacecraft.

Re:Everything about this mission is a miracle (1)

fizzer06 (1500649) | about 9 months ago | (#46029909)

Good engineering is not a miracle. It's sometimes rare and difficult, but it isn't a 'miracle'.

Very rare. I've seen multimillion dollar projects in the private sector that just don't work

Re:Everything about this mission is a miracle (3, Funny)

Last_Available_Usern (756093) | about 9 months ago | (#46028169)

Pffft, not impressed. I ran this same mission in Kerbal Space Program and it was a piece of cake.

Re:Everything about this mission is a miracle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46029765)

Please tell me how you are calculating the multiple gravity assists needed to pull this mission off with the delta v budget. As far as I know neither the tools nor the underlying engine is sophisticated enough to do this sort of thing.

Re:Everything about this mission is a miracle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46029977)

Please come back after you develop a sense of humor.

Re:Everything about this mission is a miracle (1)

techybod (1323351) | about 8 months ago | (#46034527)

touché :)

Re:Everything about this mission is a miracle (3, Interesting)

mbone (558574) | about 9 months ago | (#46028253)

AKA the billion Euro gamble. The Mars flyby was (if a much shorter blackout) considerably more dicey [archive.org] .

Re:Everything about this mission is a miracle (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | about 9 months ago | (#46028781)

Thanks, great post.
@all - check the date on the article...Paris (ESA) Jan 22, 2003.
That's right...ten years.

Re:Everything about this mission is a miracle (1)

cusco (717999) | about 9 months ago | (#46029195)

It's a miracle anyone can find an article on the Internet from 10 years ago . . .

Re:Everything about this mission is a miracle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46030001)

Thanks, great post. @all - check the date on the article...Paris (ESA) Jan 22, 2003. That's right...ten years.

10 years and 364 days. Soooo actually 11 years.

Not to diminish... (2, Interesting)

jomama717 (779243) | about 9 months ago | (#46027861)

...but IMHO the curiosity landing makes anything like this that I read about seem like a cake walk. Still in complete awe of the team(s) that pulled that off.

Excited to see what Rosetta sends back!

Re:Not to diminish... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46027949)

the curiosity landing makes anything like this that I read about seem like a cake walk.

You'll then be happy to learn that the plan is to land on the comet.

eh? (3, Interesting)

schneidafunk (795759) | about 9 months ago | (#46027965)

Landing on a high-speed small comet versus a giant planet, seems more difficult to me.

Re:eh? (3, Interesting)

dpilot (134227) | about 9 months ago | (#46028197)

Speed is relative, so is velocity. Rosetta is going to rendesvous with the comet, and go into orbit around it. At that point the speed and velocity will both be quite slow. I'm guessing that the biggest problem for the lander will be not bouncing off or floating away - there's next to no gravity.

Re:eh? (1)

schneidafunk (795759) | about 9 months ago | (#46028245)

Yea, they're using a harpoon. Wild stuff! Personally I think this is going to be more difficult than the curiosity landing. The accuracy must be much higher for the comet rendezvous.

Re:eh? (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about 8 months ago | (#46033191)

Yea, they're using a harpoon.

This sounds more like something Wile E. Coyote dreamed up every day...

I mean that in a good way.

Re:eh? (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 9 months ago | (#46028233)

Landing on a high-speed small comet versus a giant planet, seems more difficult to me.

Both targets will be/were travelling at close to relatively zero at landing time.

The lack of gravity and atmosphere might make the comet easier.

Re:eh? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46028437)

Both targets will be/were travelling at close to relatively zero at landing time.

That's how I would design a lander too.

Re:eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46032157)

well yeah, otherwise its more of a crasher than a lander

Re:eh? (2)

Rich0 (548339) | about 9 months ago | (#46028635)

The lack of gravity and atmosphere might make the comet easier.

Well, lack of atmosphere means that you need more propellant to equalize velocity. To land on a body with an atmosphere you have to just carry shielding and hit it at the right angle and the friction does the rest. The problem is that this gets you to terminal velocity and not zero velocity, and you don't want to hit the ground at terminal velocity.

If you're going to intercept a body without an atmosphere you have to equalize speed with only the use of propellant, so that is a lot more mass to carry. However, you can do that in a much more orderly fashion so that when you get close to the body you're barely moving at all relative to it.

So, both are challenging problems, but in different ways.

Re:eh? (2)

evilviper (135110) | about 9 months ago | (#46029435)

To land on a body with an atmosphere you have to just carry shielding and hit it at the right angle and the friction does the rest.

Except Mars has such an incredibly thin atmosphere that a parachute needs to be impossibly large for a soft landing. The gravity is too high for a rocket-powered landing like on the moon. Not to mention that same thin atmosphere being thick enough that you also need a tough heat shield.

Re:eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46030827)

a parachute needs to be impossibly large for a soft landing. The gravity is too high for a rocket-powered landing like on the moon.

Ah, that would explain why no mission at all has yet successfully landed on Mars.

Re:eh? (2)

evilviper (135110) | about 8 months ago | (#46031329)

No, that would be why they have to combine several of the above methods to even get a HARD landing. And yes, Mars has proven to be the most difficult body to land on... Only the US has managed it, and not at an impressive success rate, either.

Re:eh? (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 8 months ago | (#46032199)

To land on a body with an atmosphere you have to just carry shielding and hit it at the right angle and the friction does the rest.

Except Mars has such an incredibly thin atmosphere that a parachute needs to be impossibly large for a soft landing. The gravity is too high for a rocket-powered landing like on the moon. Not to mention that same thin atmosphere being thick enough that you also need a tough heat shield.

Actually, the atmosphere gets you 99% of the way. As I said in my post, an atmosphere only gets you to terminal velocity, so you usually still have some slowing down to do.

Compared to interplanetary velocity, terminal velocity is barely moving at all. On Mars it just happens to still be high enough to smash the probe. If you had to decelerate the probe completely to rest using only propellant (such as to land on one of Mars's moons) you'd need a lot more propellant. Actually, Mars's moons have the advantage of being small, so at least you don't pick up too much speed as you approach them.

Re:eh? (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 8 months ago | (#46035231)

the atmosphere gets you 99% of the way.

It can, but it's not "free". You need a lot of heavy equipment to use that thin atmosphere to slow down. Landing on something without an atmosphere, and with low gravity, might only take a tiny fraction as much weight in fuel.

Re:eh? (1)

sjames (1099) | about 9 months ago | (#46029931)

Or harder. There is so little gravity the lander could bounce off.

Re:eh? (1)

grep -v '.*' * (780312) | about 9 months ago | (#46030321)

Landing on a high-speed small comet versus a giant planet, seems more difficult to me.

No, no -- the planet is MUCH, much easier than the small comet -- trust me on this.

Oh! You meant in one piece.

Re:Not to diminish... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46029175)

The lander has no thruster to control the landing and just one reaction wheel (it can only orientate along one axis)
It has a thruster pointing the other way (to make sure it doesnt bounce) and the plan from what I understand is to map the surface then orient it the right way and let it fall.
The surface is pretty much unknown and the comet also spews gasses that form a nice halo around it (although that far from the sun it's stil calm)

So it's not so much of a landing but rather a carefull drop.

God, I hate it when I drink too much! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46027871)

When I drink my whole 3 drinks, I start to think I see news stories again on Slashdot! Dupes - the sign you are a drunk!

I'm going into rehab - there's an ad right there on the right, I'll click on it.

Dice Rehab!

I'm there baby!

First Glitch (4, Funny)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | about 9 months ago | (#46027873)

On wakeup an error in the MAKE COFFEE subroutine was discovered that has resulted in Rosetta being a bit grouchy.

Re:First Glitch (3, Funny)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 9 months ago | (#46027985)

However, Earth based ground crew issued the "MAKE BACON" command which improved the mood.

Re:First Glitch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46034667)

While that one was executing they also issued TAKE A PISS.

AC Awakens, Prepares To Bang Out First Post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46027889)

and then bang out your sister's poonani

I have a new appreciation for this (2)

scorp1us (235526) | about 9 months ago | (#46027897)

After playing Kerbal Space Program [jttp] and doing a simple docking in Kerbin orbit. I also managed one in Mun orbit. And to think what they are doing with this comet is just amazing.

Re:I have a new appreciation for this (2)

rosseloh (3408453) | about 9 months ago | (#46028209)

Compared to a planet, a comet is tiny. You essentially need a perfect intercept to minimize the delta-v required to enter comet orbit. Then they have to stick the landing and keep the probe from flying off the surface.

Gotta love KSP! I should look into modding in a tiny body like a comet just to test with. Someone on Reddit used Gilly as a comparable body for a "test run".

Re:I have a new appreciation for this (2)

edremy (36408) | about 9 months ago | (#46028867)

The most annoying thing about trying to land on a comet is that you can't timewarp past 1x anywhere close to it, and the gravity is so low it takes forever to actually land, or have your Kerbal come down after jumping.

(Would be cool if they'd add a couple to KSP. I bet there's a mod that does)

Re:I have a new appreciation for this (1)

Yaur (1069446) | about 9 months ago | (#46029807)

There is something called PlanetFactory that I think you could use to do that.

Alarm clock (-1)

onyxruby (118189) | about 9 months ago | (#46028129)

I think we just found the most complex and expensive alarm clock man has ever made. All that and I doubt it even has a snooze button.

Snooze (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46028221)

It sure as hell does; we designed it very well.

Re:Alarm clock (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 9 months ago | (#46028309)

I think we just found the most complex and expensive alarm clock man has ever made. All that and I doubt it even has a snooze button.

Think of this as the alarm clock you use when you have a 6am international flight, and absolutely must be up at 2am to get to the airport.

Sometimes, snoozing is not an option.

Re:Alarm clock (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about 8 months ago | (#46033219)

I think we just found the most complex and expensive alarm clock man has ever made. All that and I doubt it even has a snooze button.

Think of this as the alarm clock you use when you have a 6am international flight, and absolutely must be up at 2am to get to the airport.

Sometimes, snoozing is not an option.

I bet Gene Krantz used an old school Baby Ben or similar.

The Path of Rosetta since launch (5, Informative)

idji (984038) | about 9 months ago | (#46028301)

Here is a beautiful interactive 3D simulation of how Rosetta got to where it is now. Where is Rosetta? [esa.int] . Video [esa.int]
The choreography of the Earth, Mars, Earth, Earth slingshots is just amazing.
Here is the complex orbits to come of Rosetta around the comet Orbit around Comet [esa.int]

Big deal. (0)

oddaddresstrap (702574) | about 9 months ago | (#46028641)

It took 8 hours and 18 minutes to warm up its systems, get a location fix, halt the spin, turn towards the sun, and, finally, point its communications antenna at Earth. Bah, I do that in 15 minutes *every* morning.

Re:Big deal. (1)

neo-mkrey (948389) | about 9 months ago | (#46028831)

But Rosetta did it without coffee ;-)

Re:Big deal. (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about 8 months ago | (#46033231)

But Rosetta did it without coffee ;-)

True, but given that GP is a /. poster, I'm guessing he fits in more masturbation in his wake up routine than Rosetta.

Amazing stuff... (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | about 9 months ago | (#46028749)

Now that's more like it! Forget the asteroid-mining bullshitters and the nutters who think one day we're going to colonise Mars, (much as I'd love that to be one day possible...it just ain't).

This is real science, real exploration, with a real goal to further mankind's scientific knowledge, requiring efforts lasting years.
Oh, and (in the scheme of things), very little money.

Hats off to them. Can't wait to see if the lander makes it. Now THAT would be impressive.
Kinda like getting Woody Allen's VW to not only to start but then fly from New York to Australia, at supersonic speed, and then land on a penny.
Without a map.

Re:Amazing stuff... (1)

Isaac-1 (233099) | about 9 months ago | (#46029037)

As I see it a Mars Outpost like the Outpost we have operated at the south pole for the last half century is possible in the foreseeable future (50-100 years), but a Mars Colony that did not require a constant lifeline of supplies just to survive is something best left to the sci-fi writers talking about the year 3,000.

Where would we be... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46029799)

...without the AFRICANS who created all of this?

Oh, wait...

Re:Where would we be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46036385)

lol what's your contribution retard

The real question.... (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about 9 months ago | (#46029879)

If you worked in this particular mission control group, how could you possibly resist setting all the clocks forward about 2 minutes on the day in question?

I know, with clock synchronization and everybody having a cell phone, this is likely a lot harder than it used to be, but, that just means the reaction is that much more worth it.

Re:The real question.... (1)

Soft (266615) | about 8 months ago | (#46033059)

If you worked in this particular mission control group, how could you possibly resist setting all the clocks forward about 2 minutes on the day in question?

Hold that thought, think of the tense wait... Then consider that the signal was actually received 18 minutes later than expected [esa.int] .

Re:The real question.... (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about 8 months ago | (#46036445)

I have to wonder how many people in that room had given up hope after 5 minutes.

"Good Morning" or "Hello World" (1)

aphelion_rock (575206) | about 9 months ago | (#46030491)

There appears to be conflict as the first works spoken.

Good morning:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad... [slate.com]

Hello world:

http://www.independent.co.uk/n... [independent.co.uk]

Re:"Good Morning" or "Hello World" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033617)

Rosetta said "Hello World" :
https://twitter.com/esa/status/425331750969954304

ISEE-3/ICE says "get me a glass of water, junior" (1)

hubie (108345) | about 8 months ago | (#46032007)

The original comet rendezvous-er [thespacereview.com] is coming back to Earth [planetary.org] 35 years later. I hope we do more than just wave as it goes by.

Re:ISEE-3/ICE says "get me a glass of water, junio (1)

Soft (266615) | about 8 months ago | (#46033973)

Not to diminish ICE's accomplishments, but it didn't do rendezvous, only flybys. Rosetta will place itself in orbit then drop a lander on its target comet.

What Rosetta sends back to earth will shock us all (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46032657)

A commercial from space from rosetta stone because quite frankly if people still aren't getting the message that advertising triumphs quality learning material (which it highly lacks) and if people don't get that NASA is financially hurting then this will certainly make two points clear. Aliens will see that commercial as well and will start studying English through rosetta and won't understand crap or maybe they will be the first to successfully learn some words of another language through its system.

Chase my ass... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46032861)

We have absolutely no technology that allows us to "chase" anything in space. We are supremely lucky to calculate a collision path and then put the spacecraft into orbit or land on a body in space.

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