Report from Washington, D.C.

Notes From Rosetta-Philae Briefing

Written by: developer

In December, the Space Foundation and the European Space Agency (ESA) hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill titled “To Catch a Comet.”

Professor Mark McCaughrean, Senior Science Advisor, ESA, gave a briefing and update for the very successful Rosetta-Philae mission. He spoke for almost 90 minutes on the history of mankind’s understanding of comets throughout history and up through more recent examinations of comets. He also spoke about the origins of the Rosetta-Philae mission, its technical aspects and all the challenges it overcame in its 10-year journey to orbit a comet and then send the Philae lander to the surface. Professor McCaughrean also gave a preview of the mission’s goals and objectives for the next several months.

Some interesting notes from McCaughrean’s presentation:

  • The water detected on the comet was expected to be like ours on Earth, but it is not
  • Once the comet gets closer to the sun, Philae could “come back to life”
  • The end of mission plan may result in Rosetta landing on the comet
  • There is also a deep fissure discovered that could snap open when near the sun and result in the comet becoming two separate bodies

About 50 people attended the briefing, which was presented for Congressional staffers, officials from various departments and agencies in the executive branch, such as NASA, and international space executives and executives from Space Foundation Corporate Members.

Learn more about the Rosetta mission here.

This article is part of Space Watch: January 2015 (Volume: 14, Issue: 1).