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. Clearwater eyes hiring new downtown director within two months

    CLEARWATER — Now that the city director tasked with revitalizing downtown has resigned after his arrest on a battery charge during Oktoberfest, City Manager Bill Horne said the goal is to not leave the position vacant long.

    Clearwater Assistant City Manager  Micah Maxwell will oversee downtown until the city hires a replacement for Seth Taylor.
  2. Tampa Bay's Top 100 Workplaces deadline extended to Nov. 17

    Business

    Think you work at one of the best places in Tampa Bay? You've got a little more time to make a pitch.

    Penny Hoarder and Gregory, Sharer & Stuart were among those at an event in Tampa last May honoring winners of the Tampa Bay Times Top Workplaces awards. Nominations are now open for this year.  
[OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  3. Little separates McElwain and Muschamp eras of futility at Florida

    College

     Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain watches the second quarter of the Florida Gators game against Texas A&M, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville.
  4. Tampa-based Checkers testing delivery, aims for record expansion

    Retail

    TAMPA — Tampa-based Checkers Drive-In Restaurants continues to fly under the radar compared to dominant burger chains like McDonald's and Burger King.

    Checkers Franchisee Shaji Joseph, of Tampa, hoses down the front walkway of his store at 6401 Park Boulevard, Pinellas Park. The business has a new look including signage and exterior tile. One drive through has been eliminated for an outdoor dining area, right. Joseph owns nine Checkers and is planning to open his tenth in Tampa.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times ]
  5. What you need to know for Friday, Oct. 20

    News

    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today

    At last year's Dia de los Muertos, Casa Tina owner Tina Marie Avila (crouching) shows her "Ofrenda," or Day of the Dead alter. What would have been the 25th annual Dia de los Muertos Fiesta on Saturday had to be canceled this year because of Hurricane Irma. The folk festival will be back next year.
 [JIM DAMASKE  |  Times (2016)]