Rosetta spacecraft sent first signal after 2.5- year sleep

21 January 2014 10:40
(QHA) - Rosetta mission scientists cheer as the comet-chasing probe's first signal after awaking from a 2.5-year sleep is received at the European Space Agency's Space Operations Center in Darmstadt in Germany, NBC News reported. A European probe awoke from a deep sleep Monday to gear up for an unprecedented comet rendezvous and landing this year that will cap a 10-year voyage across the solar system. Rosetta's wakeup process took several hours as the spacecraft activated heaters and beamed a message back home. The solar-powered spacecraft had slept since mid-2011, when it sailed out near the orbit of Jupiter — 501 million miles (800 million km) from Earth — where there was not enough sunlight to power its systems. Monday's wakeup success sets the stage for what promises to be a historic spaceflight event. The spacecraft will begin final preparations to rendezvous with its target — Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko — in May, and then enter orbit around the icy body in August. If all goes well, Rosetta will release a piggyback probe to land on the comet in November, ESA reported.