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The Bloom Comes Off The Rosetta


Last Saturday Rosetta completed its final orbit and began its direct descent to the comet’s surface. It should impact on Friday in a region of active gas-jet producing pits. The satellite will conduct science observations to its very end.
Rosetta has been orbiting 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimanko for two years, watching the evolution of the comet as it passed perihelion – the first time a comet has been studied in such close proximity. Its lander, Philae, was lost on the comet’s surface after a bumpy but successful landing. It was recovered just two weeks ago by sharp-eyed photo analysts who spotted it stuck sideways in a cavern under an overhanging rock cliff where it was unable to get sunlight for its solar panels. Philae did transmit photos of the surface, reported on the presence of organic molecules near the comet’s surface and data about its health.


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