January 20th, 2014

lolcat: science

Wake up, Rosetta!

After 2.5 years of hibernation, the alarm clocks on the Rosetta spacecraft are due to go off at 10:00 AM UTC. Our lab is on tenterhooks, as we helped build part of the plasma instrument suite on board.

Here's how it works:
Settle down, Turbo. First the spacecraft will have to stop spinning, which is what it's been doing whilst in hibernation to keep the temperature under control.

No no, your OTHER left. Then the star tracker will turn on to work out the spacecraft's orientation.

Bueller...Bueller...? The spacecraft will point its antenna toward the Earth and try to communicate with a ground station (Goldstone, USA or New Norcia, Australia). This will happen sometime early this evening (for those of us in the UK). That translates to around 10 AM on the west coast of the USA.

Ve haf vays of making you talk. If the timers don't work, ESA should still be able to wake the spacecraft manually. The spin of the spacecraft means its antenna points at Earth periodically, so it can hear commands.

Rosetta is due to rendezvous with a comet in May.

People have been recording wake-up messages to Rosetta as part of the #wakeuprosetta contest being run by ESA. An absurdly sweet one was sung by Tasmin Archer:


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