At 5.a.m. EST Monday, the European Space Agency hopes to awaken a comet-chasing probe that has been dormant for more than two and a half years. It has been quietly “sleeping” in space this whole time. By awakening the Rosetta spaceship, scientists will be allowed to begin one of the most audacious and technologically advanced missions of all time.
To put it in simple terms, researchers are trying to catch themselves a comet.
During the next few months, the European Space Agency will try to have the Rosetta chase down 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko before harpooning the frozen ball of dirty ice and attempting to make a soft landing on its surface per National Post.
“It will be an amazing achievement for human endeavour, an Armageddon type thing,” said project scientist Matt Taylor at the European Space Agency, referring to the infamous Bruce Willis film Armageddon in which the hero lands his spacecraft on an asteroid to save the world from imminent destruction.
“We’re not just landing on the Moon, we’re dealing with something dynamic, which is kicking off tons of dust and gas every minute,” he said.
The comet is currently flying around through space at approximately 40,000 km/h and its nucleus is only four kilometers wide.
Scientists compare the task at hand to a fly trying to land on a speeding bullet, in other words highly difficult. It is straight out of a science fiction movie; only they are trying to make this happen in reality. No movie effects can help this mission.
Comets are the building blocks of the Solar System, left over from planet-building when our Sun was just merely a spinning disc composed of gas and dust.
The European Space Agency has enlisted the help of social media fans around the world encouraging them to “Wake Up Rosetta” in case the probe’s internal clock fails.