Tuesday, September 27, 2016

After This Long-Commanded Journey... There Will Be "No Next Time 'Round": Goodnight, To Rosetta

We will dearly miss this pairing, in truth. They were an enigmatic, captivating way to engage kids in space science, all over the globe. Yet, in silence, too -- there is some heady solace -- as some freeze, nearby -- and some others burn. . . at a distance, indeed. As for our headline, it was coined by the fine black Irishman Seamus Haney: after the commanded journey, there may well be no next time 'round. . . and so, we will reiterate a bit of what we wrote, about 20 days ago on the topic:

By all accounts, ESA (the European Space Agency) ran an excellent science mission with Rosetta -- and little Philae. We've covered it from time to time.

But as is true with all good things, they do come to an end. On September 30, that time comes -- for this pair.

As the unwasted grace of these waning elliptical orbits draws to a close, we will see Rosetta join Philae on the comet's surface, albeit on the other side of the comet -- and then fall silent. So it is with many pairs, initially found, then lost -- separated only to be reunited, and then. . . silently slipping into eternity. Yes, that's the sort of poetry space offers us. Here's a bit, from ESA:

. . . .The final flyover was completed on 24 September. Now, a short series of manoeuvres are underway, to line Rosetta up with the target impact site, over the three days as it transfers from flying elliptical orbits around the comet onto a trajectory that will eventually take it to the comet’s surface on 30 September. . . .

Now you'll be able to follow Rosetta until touchdown on the comet surface, right here. Be excellent to one another -- there'll be no next time 'round -- not for this little pair.


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