By Jonathan Stroud
According to the ESA, “The descent gave Rosetta the opportunity to study the comet’s gas, dust and plasma environment very close to its surface, as well as take very high-resolution images.”
Launched in 2004, the spacecraft arrived at its destination in August 2014 and was the first to ever orbit a comet.
Why is this cool?
This is cool because the Rosetta spacecraft was able to detect commonly found proteins and other organic compounds on the comet. These findings bring scientists one step closer to determining whether comets brought water and other elements needed for life to Earth. Rosetta also gave scientists more information into what planets may have looked like 4.6 billion years ago.
Why should I care?
You should care because the Rosetta mission is helping scientists to decipher the history and evolution of the Solar System.
The decision to end the mission was influenced by the comet’s current trajectory, heading out towards Jupiter’s orbit. The Rosetta spacecraft would not have had enough solar-powered energy to continue its mission, therefore the 1.3-billion-euro undertaking had to come to an end. Although the mission has concluded, there is still over 80,000 images and data for scientists to review.
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