Rosetta’s last days

My annual birthday-month fund-raising drive for Behind the Black is now on-going. Not only do your donations help pay my bills, they give me the freedom to speak honestly about science and culture, instead of being forced to write it as others demand.


Please consider donating by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below.


Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:

If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652


You can also support me by buying one of my books, as noted in the boxes interspersed throughout the webpage. And if you buy the books through the ebookit links, I get a larger cut and I get it sooner.

The Rosetta team has released a detailed description of what will be happening in the last two weeks of the spacecraft’s mission, leading up to its landing on the comet’s surface on September 30.

Their description of the difficulty of planning maneuvers based on the complex asymmetrical gravitational field of the two-lobed comet nucleus is especially interesting.


One comment

  • Gealon

    I don’t think I need to say it a third, or is this the fourth time, as even I am getting tired of it… But I will, one more time. One change in their “Passivation” command would enable Rosetta to operate on the surface, should it survive landing, just one. Simply amend the software patch to disable the transmitter after a computer restart. Then should the probe be destroyed, no harm, no foul. Should it survive though, then for at least as long as the batteries last, observations from the surface could be conducted.

    If they wanted to go further and ensure a safe landing, that wouldn’t be hard either. Dwindling flight team or no, it’s just one or two more thruster firings, the first just before touch down, and the second, if bouncing is a perceived threat, after touch down to ensure the craft doesn’t rise again. Heck, I know if I were Sylvain or one of the flight engineers, I would be willing to stay a few extra hours to write the commands rather then go off on holiday. But that’s not the case here. The team is already being broken up by the bureaucrats who have already written Rosetta off. Exploration be damned, we have our stunt for the end of the mission, let’s not waste any more money.

    I know I sound rather salty and in truth I feel rather salty about this waste of an opportunity to use a still functioning spacecraft for some useful gain.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *