It is the first mission to orbit and land on a comet. That makes Rosetta one of the most complex and ambitious missions ever undertaken. The total mission cost of Rosetta is close to 1.7 billion.
European scientists received data from the newly revived comet lander Philae on Thursday night, a boost to the team as they try to establish a secure line of communication for their historic scientific experiments on the surface of the comet.
The European Space Agency landed Philae on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November, but the lander bounced and landed in a position too shadowy to power its solar panels. As the comet approached the sun, the lander surprised scientists by waking up and sending signals to Earth on June 13th. However, contact with Philae had been lost ever since June 24th.
The comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was discovered was discovered in 1969 by Klim Ivanovych Churyumov and the unprecedented Rosetta mission launched in 2004.
Philae’s historic landing on the comet took place on November 12th, 2014.
One of the fascinating things about comet 67P Churyumov–Gerasimenko is that it is “singing.” As the Rosetta spacecraft neared comet 67P, researchers were taken by surprise by a low, songlike hum coming from the comet. It turns out, the “singing” is caused by the release of electrically charged particles, a phenomenon scientists still don’t fully understand.
Recently the comet hit the headlines when it was claimed comet lander Philae may be sitting on an object teeming with alien microbial life, according to two leading astronomers. Philae, the lander currently perched on top of moving comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko might be about to discover alien life, according to leading astronomers and biologists. Stating that the comet’s characteristics — an organic-rich black crust and frozen lakes — could be hospitable to living organisms, scientists believe that there’s a chance that organisms of some kind may live below the icy surface.
According to Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe, Director of the Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology, and his associate from the University of Cardiff, astrobiologist Dr. Max Wallis, “extremophiles“, otherwise known as the sort of tiny, weird organisms living in very high inhospitable places might be alive and kicking (so to speak) on this comet and others like it. As a matter of fact, according to Wallis, comets like 67P “could be more hospitable to micro-life than our Arctic and Antarctic regions.” In other words, it’s easier for some living microbes to exist on this comet than it is for them to live in some areas of the Arctic. The scientists also say that they believe this might be how life got to Earth. Furthermore, the “dark material” at the comet’s surface is being replenished as the sun burns it off, leading the scientists to surmise that some force is doing the dirty work. Wickramasinghe took the results of his data to mean that some kind of organisms are “involved in the formation of the icy structures, the preponderance of aromatic hydrocarbons, and the very dark surface.”
“Something must be doing that at a fairly prolific rate,” Wickramasinghe said.
Rosetta, the European space craft orbiting the comet, is also said to have detected strange “clusters” of organic material that look suspiciously like viral particles.
The Rosetta mission has not escaped inspiring conspiracy theories. Some posit that this mission is part of a European Space Agency and Nasa cover-up to disguise the comet’s true alien nature. An email, allegedly from a secret whistle-blowing employee of the ESA, accuses the agency of “blatant cover-ups” in wanting to land on the speeding comet and attaches photos which claim to reveal the “true inner workings of Comet 67P”.
It states: “Do not think for ONE MOMENT that a space agency would suddenly decide to spend billions of dollars to build and send a spacecraft on a 12-year journey to simply take some close-up images of a randomly picked out comet floating in space.”
“Comet 67P is NOT a comet,” the letter continues. “Some 20 years ago Nasa began detecting radio bursts from an unknown origin out in space. It would later be known that these had likely come from the direction of the now named comet 67P. It does show signs on its outside of machine like parts and unnatural terrain.”
Ending on an ominous note, it adds: “Whatever this object is, it did not ask to be found or scrutinised.”