So long, Rosetta: End is near for comet orbiter | Science News

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So long, Rosetta: End is near for comet orbiter

Spacecraft’s legacy will live on after it lands on comet 67P, shuts down for good

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5:30am, September 29, 2016
comet 67P

STAY ON TARGET  Rosetta’s final resting place will be among the dusty terrain of the Ma’at region on comet 67P, seen here as imaged by the spacecraft on September 18.

Rosetta is about to take its final bow.

On September 30, the comet orbiter will wrap up its nearly 26-month visit to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by touching down on the surface and then shutting down. Before sending its last signal to Earth, Rosetta will snap pictures and gather data all the way to the end, collecting some of the most detailed looks ever at a comet.

“Every time you look at a body and increase the resolution ... it’s another world,” says Jessica Sunshine, a planetary scientist at the University of Maryland in College Park. “It’s going to be very interesting to see what this place looks like.”

After more than 10 years in space, Rosetta arrived at 67P on August 6, 2014 (SN: 9/6/14, p. 8). About three months later, a lander named Philae detached from the orbiter and dropped to the comet’s surface. It was a rough

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