Saturday, September 10, 2016

It Ends (Again) -- As It Began... In Silence. Deep Space Silence.

[Update: this site will fall silent on Sunday and Monday, as the fifteenth year since 9/11 comes and goes. We will honor the fallen, in silence -- and resolve to demonize no genuine religious believer, as a scapegoat (though smaller minded Americans already are). End, update.] 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 will be complete on 24 September. Then a short series of manoeuvres needed to line Rosetta up with the target impact site will be executed over the following 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 know. In silence, too -- there is solace -- as they freeze, nearby -- rather than burn at a distance. But as Seamus Haney said. . . after the commanded journey, there may well be no next time 'round.


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