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Comet-Chasing Probe Wakes Up On Monday

Soulskill posted about 8 months ago | from the looking-forward-to-pretty-pictures dept.

Space 67

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Jason Major reports that after nearly a decade of soaring through the inner solar system, flying past Mars and Earth several times and even briefly visiting a couple of asteroids for a gravity assist, the European Space Agency's comet-chasing spacecraft, Rosetta, is due to 'wake up' on January 20 after 957 days of hibernation. The probe is awakening to prepare for its upcoming and highly-anticipated rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August. The spacecraft was designed to be put in hibernation for the coldest part of the journey that took it close to the orbit of Jupiter, because even with massive solar panels the size of a basketball court, Rosetta would not have enough power to complete its mission without this energy-saving strategy. Once Rosetta enters orbit around the comet — the first time a spacecraft has ever done so — it will map its surface and, three months later in November, deploy the 220-lb (100-kg) Philae lander that will intimately investigate the surface of the nucleus using a suite of advanced science instruments. 'It's the first time we've made a rendezvous with a comet — that's never been done before — and it's going to be the first time we've escorted a comet past its closest approach to the Sun,' says ESA project scientist Matt Taylor."

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BEWARE THE FRAUD !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46004587)

Perpetrated by the Commies !!

corepirate nazi hired goons inept vandals too (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46004609)

my personal experience. they do however bulllyishly disencourage contention with digital vandalism & on-line threats lambastic crap flooding (dos) etc....

units (4, Insightful)

rossdee (243626) | about 8 months ago | (#46004637)

"massive solar panels the size of a basketball court,"

can we please have proper units for measuring things in space?

Re:units (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46004641)

parsecs squared?

Re:units (5, Insightful)

bahco (522962) | about 8 months ago | (#46004645)

"massive solar panels the size of a basketball court,"

can we please have proper units for measuring things in space?

And confuse half of the american audience? Basketball courts they know, meters they don't.

Re:units (0, Flamebait)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | about 8 months ago | (#46005681)

And whose fault is that? Should we really enable their lack of brain activity? I'm not worried aboot USAn dumbness. Let them suffer.

Re:units (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46005877)

Yeah, because basketball isn't played in any countries other than america. Idiot.

Re:units (2)

kencurry (471519) | about 8 months ago | (#46005961)

"massive solar panels the size of a basketball court,"

can we please have proper units for measuring things in space?

And confuse half of the american audience? Basketball courts they know, meters they don't.

FTFA "...have a total span of about 32 metres tip to tip." Or 105 feet; a basketball court is 94 feet long.

On behalf of the USA, you're welcome.

Re:units (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46004655)

the solar panels are over 2 x the size of 1/2 of an american basketball court.

Re:units (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46004685)

can we please have proper units for measuring things in space?

A basketball court is approximately 1/447 of a Library of Congress (total square footage) or 1/319 (assignable space).

HTH

Re:units (3, Informative)

xaxa (988988) | about 8 months ago | (#46004763)

The page on the ESA website [esa.int] says there are two panels, each 32 m^2.

I'm not familiar with basketball courts, but I assume they're quite a lot bigger than that.

Re:units (2)

inasity_rules (1110095) | about 8 months ago | (#46004873)

Hence the probe had to hibernate.

Re:units (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46004897)

Pro-level courts are about 430 m^2

Re:units (1)

excelsior_gr (969383) | about 8 months ago | (#46007979)

420 m^2, to be exact. In fact, both panels together make a badminton court!

Re:units (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46005065)

International basketball court is 28x15m (American is slightly bigger), which means the diagonal is 31.8m, which is amazingly almost exactly the length of the panels, which is about 32m tip to tip.

At some point you can start to tell the age of someone by the gusto at which they get excited at pointing the mistakes of others (which often enough aren't actually mistakes).

Re:units (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46005137)

Only that was what was said. They said they were the same size as a basketball court which is not the same as saying they are the same length as a basketball court's diagonal. You are twisting numbers to fit your idea.

The area of the solar panels is approximately 32 m^2. The area of a basketball court (which is played is countries other than america) is about 420 m^2. Not the same size at all.

Re:units (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46005351)

Only that was what was said. They said they were the same size as a basketball court which is not the same as saying they are the same length as a basketball court's diagonal. You are twisting numbers to fit your idea.

Seriously, you want to argue about the meaning of whether "size" refers to area or length or something else when it comes to an unquoted background piece from a CNN article regurgitated as one of three links onto Slashdot, rather than being happy to know that there is a reasonable explanation why the main project scientist for the spacecraft would've said what he did?

Re:units (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46006301)

You are twisting numbers to fit your idea.

That the head of the project may have a clue about the size of the spacecraft? Yea, that's a crazy idea.

Re:units (3, Interesting)

osu-neko (2604) | about 8 months ago | (#46007861)

Only that was what was said. They said they were the same size as a basketball court...

Actually, that's not what they said. They said that the probe would not have been able to power itself even with solar panels the size of a basketball court. It's a hypothetical statement. My car would not be able to lift itself, even if it was filled with hydrogen. This is true, but in saying this, I'm not saying my car is actually filled with hydrogen, just pointing out that it wouldn't have enough lift even if it was.

Granted the way they said it unfortunately implied what you said. But it's not what they actually said.

Re:units (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46008693)

(a) the quote isn't provided, so who knows what they said
(b) in English, both meanings are possible

Re:units (1)

Optali (809880) | about 8 months ago | (#46023459)

They forgot to say "The size of a basketball court for hamsters", it's the favourite sport at ESA, you should see new power forward, maaan! the critter is awesome, MVP for two consecutive seasons:

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic... [gstatic.com]

Re:units (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 8 months ago | (#46005031)

You're correct, since this is an ESA project the proper units would be soccer fields. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be a standard measurement; I suppose it's about 9% of a smallish field - if that helps

Re:units (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46005281)

Err, since it's an ESA project it would be "football fields". "Soccer" is not a word frequently encountered in Europe, except from the lips of the more impressionable of Britain's youth, few if any of whom actually understand the rules of American Football but a distressing number of whom use American terminology for the game they themselves actually play.

Balls to them and their habit of playing football on my lawn!

Re:units (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about 8 months ago | (#46012415)

"Soccer" is not a word frequently encountered in Europe, except from the lips of the more impressionable of Britain's youth

And Saturday morning Sky Sports coverage [wikipedia.org] .

Re:units (1)

Optali (809880) | about 8 months ago | (#46023523)

Spot on mate!!!
FOOTBALL is the name of the #1 sport on the planet, played by 11 vs 11 guys with spike in their shoes a _round_ ball and some guys in black that nobody cares about... and hooligans wrecking havoc in the town.

This sport that USians call "football" where an undefined number of guys stay for hours deciding how to place themselves and were everybody is covered in cushions should be called more appropriately "Fluffyball" or "sissy-rugby".

Re:units (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about 8 months ago | (#46005409)

It is approximately one millionth of the surface area of all the pages in the Library of Congress.

Re:units (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46020085)

Since when is Basketball Court not an official unit of measure?

They exist in every decent size community in the USA, where they do not there is likely to be TV that show basketball games taking place on a court. This saves time and is, as another here suggests, doesn't compel the meter v foot faceoff that using a more standard unit of measure might. /. the Peacemaker.

Re:units (1)

Optali (809880) | about 8 months ago | (#46023411)

How much is that in FIFA approved football fields?

It sure was asleep! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46004661)

...flying past Mars and Earth several times...

That sounds like a sleepy driver to me!

Unless....are they using ethanol to fuel this thing?! Does MADS (Mother Against Drunk Space exploration) know about this?

Wake Up (5, Funny)

ketomax (2859503) | about 8 months ago | (#46004671)

is due to 'wake up' on January 20 after 957 days of hibernation

If successful, this will be a new record for the onboard Windows XP.

I can tell you what it's gonna find (4, Funny)

eclectro (227083) | about 8 months ago | (#46004689)

You know that ice that's in the corner of the parking lot covered in black dirt and is the last piece of ice to melt? That's what's that probe is going to find.

Re:I can tell you what it's gonna find (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46009819)

But maybe the black will be oil.

Re:I can tell you what it's gonna find (1)

Optali (809880) | about 8 months ago | (#46023535)

don't worry, there is an US military probe following it, if there is oil in it it will first bomb the fuck out of it and then set up a puppet government on it to get full rights to drill.

RTG? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 8 months ago | (#46004695)

Why didn't they just use an RTG? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioisotope_thermoelectric_generator [wikipedia.org]

Re:RTG? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46004775)

Plutonium is pretty hard to come by these days. There's not enough available for all the deep space missions proposed.

Re:RTG? (5, Informative)

hey! (33014) | about 8 months ago | (#46004913)

I presume because a large solar array with some battery backup meets their power needs over the mission for less money than an RTG, and they only need to operate for a short period out near the outer limits of what is feasible for photovoltaics (roughly the orbit of Jupiter).

The solar panels will produce 850 watts at the rendezvous point -- roughly the same as the Cassini probe's RTG at launch. Those panels will produce prodigious amounts of power at the spacecraft's action-packed perihelion, which may be useful. For example a huge power budget would allow faster transmission of data [wikipedia.org] .

The drawback I see is reliability. The spacecraft's systems have to be kept dormant for a long time when it's out near its aphelion.

Re:RTG? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46005645)

They're heavy as hell due to all of the necessary shielding, and launch failure carries a risk of contamination on Earth. Haven't you ever played Kerbal Space Program? We don't need RTGs until our ion propulsion system is working.

Re:RTG? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46006505)

Why didn't they just use an RTG? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioisotope_thermoelectric_generator [wikipedia.org]

After bombing Hiroshima, the U.S. has felt guilty about the use of atomic energy for anything, and has been increasingly avoiding it wherever they could, including not reprocessing spent fuel rods, and just leaving them as nuclear waste instead as a result of an executive order by Jimmy Carter.

Re:RTG? (1)

cavreader (1903280) | about 8 months ago | (#46014259)

You do know that the US uses nuclear reactors to power it's aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines?

Re:RTG? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 8 months ago | (#46017313)

as well as, nearly every other spacecraft we've put up.

The 12-year Journey (5, Informative)

martyb (196687) | about 8 months ago | (#46004703)

For the curious, here's a video showing Rosetta's path: Rosetta's Twelve-Year Journey to Land on a Comet - ESA Space Science HD Video [youtube.com]

Re:The 12-year Journey (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46004789)

Nice. We can also see that the submitter claim "briefly visiting a couple of asteroids for a gravity assist" is bunk. The asteroid flybys didn't change the orbit in any useful amount -- only the planet flybys did.

Re:The 12-year Journey (2)

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) | about 8 months ago | (#46004825)

You are correct.

It should have read:

" flying past Mars and Earth several times for a gravity assist and even briefly visiting a couple of asteroids"

Re:The 12-year Journey (1)

cusco (717999) | about 8 months ago | (#46006159)

Really SlashDot, I'm disappointed. I expected to see this observation making up half of the discussion thread, instead just a bunch of whining about the size of a basketball court. Sigh.

Actually, it's an incredibly cool accomplishment. This has already been one of the most productive deep space probes in years, and now the show really starts.

Chickens before they hatch? (2)

Bayoudegradeable (1003768) | about 8 months ago | (#46004729)

Saying a probe wakes up on Monday assumes no glitches. Wouldn't it be best to say "should/expected to/might" wake up Monday?

Re:Chickens before they hatch? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46006929)

If you had to qualify statements with modifiers like that, you'd never get anything said.

Re:Chickens before they hatch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46009831)

We all ought to say that sonny boy, we all ought to...

Monday morning & the alarm clock goes (2)

Alain Williams (2972) | about 8 months ago | (#46004753)

Poor space probe, I sympathise with it. What a day to wake up on!

Re:Monday morning & the alarm clock goes (1)

terryk29 (2756467) | about 8 months ago | (#46005095)

ESA: "Rosetta will prepare for its upcoming rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko"

Probe: Groan, mumble. "Whatever... where's my coffee?"

Exciting stuff (2)

hackertourist (2202674) | about 8 months ago | (#46004779)

I remember staying up late to watch Giotto's close approach to Halley. That we're now planning to *land* on a comet, is very impressive.

off to planet willis in our star cars fully loaded (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46004817)

monkeys? check. virgins? check.. gargoyles? check. well equipped to start again we venture where only movies have yet dared to fictionalize excitement too

All These Worlds... (2)

seven of five (578993) | about 8 months ago | (#46004939)

All These Worlds are Yours Except 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Attempt No Landings There.

Amazing Picture from Rosetta of Asteroid Lutetia (5, Interesting)

burnttoy (754394) | about 8 months ago | (#46004969)

http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/468180main_2_Lutetia_and_Saturn_946-710.jpg [nasa.gov]

With Saturn hanging in the background. Stunning. It's worth it already!

Re:Amazing Picture from Rosetta of Asteroid Luteti (4, Informative)

monkeyhybrid (1677192) | about 8 months ago | (#46005165)

Wow, I don't remember seeing that pic before (must be from the 2010 flyby) but it's just about to become my desktop wallpaper. Thanks!

On a side note, for anyone who's not looked at the night sky before through a telescope, you can see Saturn somewhat like it is in that image, with an entry level (ish) telescope from your back yard. I first saw Saturn through an old TAL-1 newtonian that can be bought for as little as £100 here in the UK and on a good night you'll get a sharper view of Saturn than shown in that image. Or you could pop along to your local astro meet (there's bound to be one near you) and have a look at some of these objects through varying sizes and designs of telescopes.

Seeing Saturn for the first time through a telescope is, in my experience and from what others frequently say too, jaw dropping amazing. Then take a look at Jupiter with the same telescope and you should be able to make out Jupiter's bands and some of its moons, maybe even the great red spot if you time it right. We've all seen them in photos but there's nothing quite like the knowledge that your eye is at the receiving end of actual photons being reflected by the planets, or being emitted from galaxies.

orbital parameters (5, Informative)

terryk29 (2756467) | about 8 months ago | (#46005739)

I dug around ESA's pages and finally found details on the orbital parameters: on Comet Rendezvous [esa.int] , under "Comet mapping and characterisation (August 2014)" (halfway down) it says: "...the spacecraft is inserted into orbit around the nucleus at a distance of about 25 kilometres. Their [sic] relative speed is now down to a few centimetres per second. "

That slow orbital speed (OK, slow compared to what we're used to dealing with) is due to the small mass of the comet (again, compared to things like the Earth or Moon), which Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] gives as about 3e12 kg. Checking the math, the equation for circular orbital velocity v[circ] = sqrt(GM/R) ~= sqrt( (7e-11)(3e12) / 25e3 ) = 0.09 m/s = 9 cm/s, cool. (Even if the quoted 25 km is to the surface rather than the centre, using that figure for R is OK since the comet's radius is only about 2 km.)

FWIW, at the surface, escape velocity sqrt(2)*v[circ] = sqrt( 2(7e-11)(3e12) / 2e3 ) = 0.5 m/s. You could easily jump off of that comet!

Re:orbital parameters (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | about 8 months ago | (#46012891)

... Their [sic] relative speed ...

Why the [sic]? 'Their' is the correct word. It certainly wouldn't be 'there', and when talking about relative speed there have to be two objects, hence the plural - 'its' would not be correct either.

Re:orbital parameters (1)

terryk29 (2756467) | about 8 months ago | (#46017567)

Doh! <smack/> You're right, "their" certainly works.

Comet-chasing probe wakes up on Monday... (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 8 months ago | (#46005825)

...decides it hasn't recovered from the weekend yet, calls in sick, goes back to sleep and rolls in on Tuesday at about 09:30.

"Gravity Assist" (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | about 8 months ago | (#46005827)

briefly visiting a couple of asteroids for a gravity assist

Gravity assist for whom, the probe or the asteroids?

I'm curious (1)

Pop69 (700500) | about 8 months ago | (#46008197)

Can Hugh Pickens DOT Com not get his own website to post stuff on ?

Re:I'm curious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46009197)

He's got one, apparently... Slashdot... http://hughpickens.com/slashdot/ [hughpickens.com]

excited jabin jay trapp (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46010633)

Jabin jay Trapp... I am excited that we have virtually any space exploration

excited jabin jay trapp (1)

Jabin Jay Trapp (3505881) | about 8 months ago | (#46010639)

Jabin jay Trapp... I am excited that we have virtually any space exploration

Breaking news: wakeup is going well (2)

hackertourist (2202674) | about 8 months ago | (#46015883)

I was following the webcast [esa.int] , a few minutes ago they received the signal from Rosetta, so the wakeup has succeeded, if a bit behind schedule.

(unfortunately I can't see a way to rewind, so you'll have to wait for the video to become available on the archive section of the webcast page)

Re:Breaking news: wakeup is going well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46023729)

Here it is:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTziL4Y-dbU&list=PLbyvawxScNbtAhH8vHAYl-pyEirPi-4Ad

Arthur C Clarke would be PROUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46016103)

In his SCI FI novel 2061:Odessey III, from the late 80s Mr Clarke wrote about a ship that would rendezvous with Halleys Comet and land people ON THE COMET. It's kind of cool to see Clarke'svision partly coming true :)

Did it yesterday, what's the problem? (1)

Optali (809880) | about 8 months ago | (#46023399)

I also woke up this Monday, what's the big deal?

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