Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Comet-chasing probe wakes up, signals Earth

BERLIN — Waking up after almost three years of hibernation, a comet-chasing spacecraft sent its first signal back to Earth on Monday, prompting cheers from scientists who hope to use it to drop the first space lander onto a comet.

The European Space Agency received the all-clear message from its Rosetta spacecraft at 1:18 p.m. EST — a message that had to travel about 500 million miles.

Dormant systems on the spacecraft were switched back on in preparation for the final stage of its decadelong mission to rendezvous with the comet named 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Systems had been powered down in 2011 to conserve energy, leaving scientists in the dark about the probe's fate until now.

Scientists at the space agency's mission control room in Darmstadt, Germany, will now take control of Rosetta again, a procedure slowed by the 45 minutes it takes a signal to travel to or from the spacecraft, said Andrea Accomazzo, the spacecraft's operations manager.

The wake-up call is one of the final milestones for Rosetta before it makes its rendezvous with comet 67P in the summer. The probe will fly a series of maneuvers to observe the comet — a lump of rock and ice about 2 ½ miles in diameter — before dropping a lander onto its icy surface in November. The lander will dig up samples and analyze them with its instruments.

Scientists hope the mission will help them understand the composition of comets and thereby discover more about the origins and evolution of our solar system.

Comet-chasing probe wakes up, signals Earth 01/20/14 [Last modified: Monday, January 20, 2014 8:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Comedian and activist Dick Gregory dies at 84

    Nation

    The comedian Dick Gregory rose to national prominence in the early 1960s as a black satirist whose audacious style of humor was biting, subversive and topical, mostly centered on current events, politics and above all, racial tensions. His trademark was the searing punchline.

    Dick Gregory, a comedian, activist and author, died Saturday. [Tribune News Service, 2011]
  2. Winter Haven police investigating armed robbery at Dollar General

    Crime

    WINTER HAVEN — Police are investigating an armed robbery Friday night of a Dollar General store on W Lake Ruby Drive.

  3. Rowdies settle for draw at home

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  4. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  5. 'Free speech rally' cut short after massive counterprotest

    Nation

    BOSTON — Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans converged Saturday on downtown Boston in a boisterous repudiation of white nationalism, dwarfing a small group of conservatives who cut short their planned "free speech rally" a week after a gathering of hate groups led to bloodshed in Virginia.

    Thousands of people march against a “free speech rally” planned Saturday in Boston. About 40,000 people were in attendance.