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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.

Paleontology,, Animals

Jurassic ichthyosaur dubbed ‘Storr Lochs Monster’ unveiled

By Meghan Rosen 9:26am, September 7, 2016
A rare, 170-year-old skeleton discovered in Scotland is one of the best-preserved ichthyosaur fossils from the Middle Jurassic.
Planetary Science

Rosetta spots Philae lander on surface of comet 67P

By Christopher Crockett 12:33pm, September 6, 2016
Missing since November 2014, the Philae comet lander has been found lurking in the shadows on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Animals,, Anthropology

Bonobos rival chimps at the art of cracking oil palm nuts

By Bruce Bower 6:00am, September 5, 2016
Bonobos demonstrate their overlooked nut-cracking skills in an African sanctuary.
Chemistry,, Science & Society

FDA bans chemicals in antibacterial soaps

By Helen Thompson 4:49pm, September 2, 2016
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled against 19 antibacterial soap ingredients, citing insufficient evidence of bacteria-killing and safety problems.
Technology,, Astronomy

SpaceX rocket explodes on Florida launchpad

By Helen Thompson 3:33pm, September 1, 2016
SpaceX has lost a Falcon 9 rocket and its satellite payload in a standard prelaunch test.
Planetary Science

Water has played a big role in shaping dwarf planet Ceres

By Christopher Crockett 2:00pm, September 1, 2016
Findings from the Dawn spacecraft turn up cryovolcanoes, ice patches and hydrated minerals on Ceres, supporting the idea that water helped shape the dwarf planet.
Animals,, Ecology

For snowy owls, wintering on the prairie might be normal

By Amy McDermott 12:00am, August 31, 2016
Some snowy owls leave the Arctic for winter. That’s not a desperate move, new study says.
Biomedicine,, Animals

Mosquito moms can pass Zika to offspring

By Susan Milius 5:00pm, August 29, 2016
In the lab, Zika virus can pass from a female mosquito to her eggs, suggesting how infections can flare up again after adult insects dwindle.
Genetics,, Animals

Genes help snub-nosed monkeys live the high life

By Tina Hesman Saey 12:30pm, August 25, 2016
Snub nosed monkeys have certain genetic variants that help them breathe easy in low oxygen.
Animals,, Biophysics

Hoverflies (probably) can’t sense gravity

By Helen Thompson 3:04pm, August 18, 2016
Acrobatic insects called hoverflies may simply use visual and airflow cues and not gravity to orient their bodies midair.
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