Dutch space probe Rosetta phones home
Hello World!”. With this message, the Dutch comet-chasing spacecraft Rosetta sent its first signal back to Earth after almost three years in hibernation.
Rendezvous with the comet
Rosetta was awakened by its internal alarm clock at 10:00 GMT on January 20th. The European Space Agency (ESA) then received the message from the spacecraft about 800 million kilometres away shortly after 18:00 GMT. Rosetta was put into hibernation in 2011 to conserve energy for its long journey to meet comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. If all goes as planned the probe will rendezvous with the comet in the coming months and drop a lander onto its icy surface in November to analyse its composition. Scientists believe the comet was formed about 4 and half billion years ago. The study will help determine whether comets brought water or even life to Earth. Until the end of 2015, the probe will gather data on the comet's surface and examine how it changes as its nears the sun.