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European Rosetta Space Craft About To Rendezvous With Comet 62

Taco Cowboy (5327) writes After a long 10-year journey spanning some four (4) billion kilometers, Rosetta, an interplanetary space craft from the ESA (European Space Agency), is on its final approach to comet Comet 67P (or comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko). The last in a series of 10 thruster firings over the past few months has slowed Rosetta to the pace of a person walking, about two miles per hour relative to the speed of its target at a distance of about 60 miles. Photographs have already revealed a surprisingly irregular shape for the 2.5-mile-wide comet, possibly an amalgamation of two icy bodies or a result of uneven weathering during previous flybys. From a distance, the blurry blob initially looked somewhat like a rubber duck. As the details came into the focus, it now more resembles a knob of ginger flying through space. Wednesday marks a big moment for space exploration: After a few thruster rockets fire for a little over six minutes, Rosetta will be in position to make the first-ever rendezvous with that comet nickname 'Rubber Duck.' 'This burn, expected to start at 11 a.m. central European time, will tip Rosetta into the first leg of a series of triangular paths around the comet, according to the Paris-based European Space Agency, or ESA, which oversees the mission. Each leg will be about 100 kilometers (62 miles) long, and it will take Rosetta between three to four days to complete each leg. There will be a live streaming webcast of Rosetta's Aug. 6 orbital arrival starting at 8 a.m. GMT via a transmission from ESA's spacecraft operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany. Also at the BBC.
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European Rosetta Space Craft About To Rendezvous With Comet

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  • by Bryan Ischo ( 893 ) * on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @03:41AM (#47612165) Homepage

    I have always wondered why the photographs that come back from space are so grainy/blurry and have poor color reproduction. Why aren't the images clearer? Why don't we get to see movies instead of just crummy looking stills?

    There *must* be a reason that they can't make photos that come from space exploration better or include full color videos so that we can see what these things would look like if we were really there.

    I can only posit that either the radiation hardening necessary for space exploration somehow precludes the use of large CCD/CMOS sensors, or the bandwidth limitation of sending data from that far out makes anything other than tiny images with low resolution possible, and makes video impossible.

    But still I can't help wondering why, if they can spend tens of millions to put these things up there, they can't produce better images for whatever millions are left over for on board equipment.

  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @05:41AM (#47612471)

    That was great! I didn't realise that there was an AFM on the probe to actually image sample particles. And the 3D printed model was a fantastic visual aid. Do you think that the 3D printer instructions for the comet will be shared?

  • by coastwalker ( 307620 ) <acoastwalker&hotmail,com> on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @05:57AM (#47612509) Homepage

    The live broadcast has been fairly interesting so far, they actually allowed a scientist pointing at a water spectrum graph to be broadcast. This is almost like being back in the 70's when they treated the audience as if they had done high school and were actually interested.

    I do hope they put some of this up on Youtube

  • Where is Rosetta? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by skastrik ( 971221 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @05:59AM (#47612515) Journal
    Here it is ... []
    Roughly 23 light minutes away.

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