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Watch: Rosetta’s Journey Around Comet 67P Was Not An Easy One

Aug 11, 2016 05:04 AM EDT
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ESA Attempts To Land Probe On Comet
ESA has released a video of the Rosetta probe’s two-year journey around the comet 67P.
(Photo : ESA via Getty Images)

The European Space Agency (ESA) has recently released a video of the Rosetta spacecraft's journey around comet 67P.

The Philae lander may have been permanently disconnected from Earth, but the Rosetta probe, the spacecraft that carried Philae, is still orbiting the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. A video released by ESA shows the challenging route the spacecraft had to make in order to get the right movement around the comet.

The video begins on July 31, 2014, during Rosetta's final approach to the comet, detailing its journey all the way until August 9, 2016. In its journey, Rosetta was able to capture photographs and collect data about its trajectory and communicating with the Philae lander, which landed on the surface of the comet in November 2014.

As it orbits around the comet, Rosetta made several flybys, and one in particular caused the spacecraft to enter safe mode.

"One of the closest flybys triggered a 'safe mode' event that forced it to retreat temporarily until it was safe to gradually draw closer again," ESA said in a press release.

"The comet's increased activity in the lead up to and after perihelion in August 2015 meant that Rosetta remained well beyond 100 km distances for several months."

On June 13, 2015, ESA was able to communicate with Philae, but only temporarily. While erratic signals were detected from the lander, contact was not maintained despite Rosetta's attempts to establish communications.

Despite major setbacks, such as the Philae lander's unfortunate landing that led to problems in communications, the Rosetta mission proved to be a successful one, bringing along valuable data about comets and other details about the solar system.

Rosetta is currently preparing for a controlled landing on the comet as it moves into the outer solar system. On Sept. 30, ESA will crash the spacecraft into the comet's surface to capture close-up photographs and data from the comet, officially ending the mission.

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