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Comet-Chasing Probe Wakes Up On Monday 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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Comet-Chasing Probe Wakes Up On Monday

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  • units (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @09:46AM (#46004637)

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

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

  • Re:units (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bahco ( 522962 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @09:52AM (#46004645) Homepage Journal

    "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 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @11:42AM (#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.

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