This is an artist's impression of how Rosetta will look when it releases its lander which will land on a comet nucleus.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of European Space Agency
Rosetta Mission Update
The Rosetta Mission
News story originally written on January 21, 2003
was suppose to launch in January 2003. Unfortunately, the launch had to be delayed!
The Rosetta spacecraft was suppose to be launched on an Ariane 5 rocket. A month ago, another Ariane 5 rocket blew up! Just to be safe, the European Space Agency (ESA), which is managing the Rosetta mission, chose to delay the mission until a new rocket is tested and proven safe.
Rosetta missed its launch window. This means it cannot meet up with comet Wirtanen as was planned. The ESA is in the process of finding other comets that Rosetta might meet with. The Rosetta spacecraft is actually made of two parts: an orbiter, which will approach the chosen comet and then circle it, and a lander, which will touch down on the comet.
Rosetta is certainly taking a new direction than was first planned. It will still be the first mission to have a lander which will touch down on a comet. And the scientists and engineers working on the Rosetta mission are sure Rosetta will become a success! Given time, Rosetta will still study a given comet in detail, in hopes that this will lead to new scientific findings about all comets and thus about the formation of our solar system.
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