500 Million Miles from the Sun, German Probe Awakens

A German comet-chasing probe named Rosetta has awoken after traveling for 31 months. The probe was set out to land on and analyze the ancient rocks of our universe.

German scientists at the European Space Agency received a signal from the probe, whose as far away as Jupiter, early Monday morning. The comet in particular that Rosetta is tracking is comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, whose path goes all the way around the sun. The estimated date that the comet should complete its analysis and orbit is in 2016.

So far, Rosetta has snapped photos of Earth, Mars, and other asteroids and has sense been in hibernation starting in May 2011. The spacecraft was launched on March 2, 2004 for a 10-year mission in which its goal was to reach the outer solar system and land on comet 67P.

Mission manager, Gerhard Schweh, told reporters “the spacecraft is there, it’s awake, and I think we are all overwhelmed.”

The scientist had mapped out the hibernating spacecrafts travels and knew that Rosetta would be awakening and making contact any day now. However, there is only a one hour window in which the signal could make contact with Earth and have it only take 45 minutes to travel from so many million miles away. A roar of celebration shook the space agency when they received Rosetta’s signal. Whats coming is now 2 years of research that the agency is eager to start.

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