Who did we say goodbye to today?September 30, 2016
This morning, Sept. 30, 2016, just after 10:39 UTC (6:39 a.m. EDT) ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft ended its mission with an impact onto the surface of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The descent, begun with a final burn of its thrusters about 14 hours earlier, was slow, stately, and deliberate, but even at a relative walking pace Rosetta was not designed to be a lander like its parter Philae and thus ceased operation upon contact with the comet.
Rosetta will now remain on the surface of 67P not far from the location of Philae, which landed in November 2014 and was just recently identified in an OSIRIS image after nearly two years of speculation about its final landing place.
All in all, an amazing job by Rosetta, Philae, ESA, and all of the flight, instrument, and science teams that made the mission an incredible success. Thanks to their hard work and dedication over the years we now know more about our Solar System and comets especially than we ever did before, and the data Rosetta and Philae have provided us will be used for decades to come.
Rest well, little travelers.