The European Space Agency (ESA) has decided to end their Rosetta space probe after two years. It will land on the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The orbiter will gather data for the last time before it loses its power.
What Is The Rosetta Space Probe?
Rosetta was built by the ESA at the cost of $995 million. It was launched into space in March 2004. It took ten years for Rosetta to reach its intended destination. It has since been monitoring Comet 67P. Rosetta has been instrumental in studying the said comet.
According to The Guardian, astronomers have been really interested in Comet 67P. It is thought to be a part of the solar system's creation billion years ago. ESA's Senior Science Adviser Mark McCaughrean said that they are still beginning to analyze the data Rosetta has sent to them, according to TechTimes.
Last year, Rosetta was able to investigate the plumes of dust and water vapor from the comet's surface. It released the Philae Lander on the Comet 67P which helped to determine the comet's composition. It discovered that the comet is highly porous.
But one of the probe's main missions is to find evidence that the water on Earth was brought by comets that had bombarded the planet. The comet is described as the massive ball of ice, dust and organic materials. Scientists were able to examine the ice on Comet 67P.
They found out that the ratio of the hydrogen atoms and deuterium in the ice is distinct from that of the Earth's oceans. This means that the water on Earth did not come from comets. Thus, the theory was proven to be false.
However, the organic molecules discovered by Rosetta could prove that comets have a part in the Earth's life origin.
The Decision To End The Probe
Rosetta is actually powered by solar panels. It managed to survive for two years because Comet 67P was near the sun. The problem is that the comet's direction is now away from the sun and towards the deep space. McCaughrean admitted that the two-year probe is already long. It had caused Rosetta to be covered in dust.
The team did not want to risk not having the chance to reactivate the orbiter. So, they had decided to end the probe.