It sometimes feels like we are standing still in our “space age” progress but then you SpaceX / Elon Musk news and you feel we’re finally moving again. Sometimes you even get progress from other sources, like the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft rendezvousing with a comet for the first time.
The Rosetta mission will be the first to give scientists close-up measurements of a comet as it transforms from a cold and inactive state to an active body that sheds hundreds of kilos of dust and gas as it swings around the sun. The comet is in a 6.5-year elliptical orbit that comes within the orbits of Mars and Earth and back out to beyond the gas giant Jupiter. “After 10 years, five months and four days travelling towards our destination, looping around the Sun five times and clocking up 6.4bn kilometres, we are delighted to announce finally, we are here,” said ESA’s director general, Jean-Jacques Dordain. “Europe’s Rosetta is now the first spacecraft in history to rendezvous with a comet, a major highlight in exploring our origins. Discoveries can start.”