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Science Ticker

Rosetta spacecraft lands on comet, ends mission

comet 67P from 51 meters

FINAL APPROACH Rosetta's last picture of comet 67P, taken just 51 meters from the surface, reveals a gravelly landscape.

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Rosetta is no more. The comet orbiter touched down on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko at 7:19 a.m. Eastern and immediately shut down, bringing to an end a nearly 26-month mission in orbit around the comet.

“I hereby declare mission operations ended,” said Rosetta mission manager Patrick Martin. The landing site has been dubbed Sais, the ancient Egyptian town believed to be the original home of the Rosetta stone, after which the mission is named. “We can say Rosetta has come home,” Martin said.

Confirmation came from a planned loss of radio signal from the spacecraft. Onboard computers were programmed to shut down as soon as Rosetta hit the comet. The spacecraft approached the comet at just a few kilometers per hour — a gentle walking pace — but the probe wasn’t designed for landings and was likely damaged.

Although the spacecraft’s work is complete, mission scientists will continue to keep busy analyzing all the data sent back before touchdown.

See all of our coverage of the Rosetta mission.


Zika virus infects cells that make bone, muscle in lab tests

By Meghan Rosen 12:00pm, September 29, 2016
Zika virus infects embryonic cranial cells in lab-grown minibrains, potentially altering face and skull shape and brain development, and maybe even contributing to microcephaly.

Solar system sits within a major spiral arm of the Milky Way

By Christopher Crockett 2:00pm, September 28, 2016
The solar system appears to live in one of the major spiral arms of the Milky Way, not in an offshoot as previously thought.
Genetics,, Cells,, Science & Society

First ‘three-parent baby’ born from nuclear transfer

By Tina Hesman Saey 6:14pm, September 27, 2016
The first human baby produced through spindle nuclear transfer was born in April, New Scientist reports.

Measles has been eliminated in the Americas, WHO says

By Meghan Rosen 3:11pm, September 27, 2016
Thanks to wide-spread vaccination against the viral disease, measles has officially been declared eliminated from the Americas.
Planetary Science

A salty sea could lurk beneath the heart of Pluto

By Christopher Crockett 5:00pm, September 23, 2016
An ocean more than 100 kilometers thick might hide beneath Pluto’s surface.
Archaeology,, Computing

Digital rehab exposes Biblical roots of ancient Israeli scroll

By Bruce Bower 2:00pm, September 21, 2016
Virtual unwrapping reveals Biblical text on charred remains of ancient Israeli scroll.
Climate,, Oceans

Arctic sea ice shrinks to second-lowest low on record

By Thomas Sumner 5:18pm, September 19, 2016
A warm summer helped shrink sea ice in the Arctic Ocean to a statistical tie with 2007 for the second smallest sea ice minimum on record.
Animals,, Evolution

Hawaiian crows ace tool-user test

By Susan Milius 2:59pm, September 14, 2016
The almost-extinct Hawaiian crow joins the small, select flock of birds shown to use sticks tools routinely and well to wiggle bits of food out of crevices.
Planetary Science

Source of Charon’s red north pole is probably Pluto

By Christopher Crockett 1:00pm, September 14, 2016
The dark red pole on Charon, the largest moon of Pluto, is probably gas that escaped from Pluto and was then transformed by sunlight.
Planetary Science

OSIRIS-REx spacecraft launches tonight for mission to grab asteroid sample

By Christopher Crockett 6:00am, September 8, 2016
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is about to launch for a seven-year mission to study the asteroid Bennu and bring samples of the space rock back to Earth.
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