The European Space Agency (ESA) ended the Rosetta mission to Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko today by maneuvering the spacecraft onto (or, more likely, into) the surface of the comet: Mission complete: Rosetta’s journey ends in daring descent to comet – ESA
ESA’s historic Rosetta mission has concluded as planned, with the controlled impact onto the comet it had been investigating for more than two years.
Confirmation of the end of the mission arrived at ESA’s control centre in Darmstadt, Germany at 11:19 GMT (13:19 CEST) with the loss of Rosetta’s signal upon impact.
Rosetta carried out its final manoeuvre last night at 20:50 GMT (22:50 CEST), setting it on a collision course with the comet from an altitude of about 19 km. Rosetta had targeted a region on the small lobe of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, close to a region of active pits in the Ma’at region.
The descent gave Rosetta the opportunity to study the comet’s gas, dust and plasma environment very close to its surface, as well as take very high-resolution images.
Pits are of particular interest because they play an important role in the comet’s activity. They also provide a unique window into its internal building blocks.
The information collected on the descent to this fascinating region was returned to Earth before the impact. It is now no longer possible to communicate with the spacecraft.
This video shows the trajectory that led the spacecraft into the comet:
Here is a video preview of Rosetta’s final act from TMRO.tv:
TMRO Astronomer Jared Head gives us a review of the incredible Rosetta mission from the European Space Agency, and then gives us a preview of what to expect in it’s final days ahead at the end of the mission.