back to article First pics: Comet-chaser Rosetta hurtles towards icy prey, camera in hand

The European Space Agency's Rosetta probe has sent back the first two aligned images of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the comet it has been chasing for ten years and nearly 800 million kilometres. Rosetta comet picture - wide angle Wide angle, tiny target ... that spec is what the ESA is trying to land on The Rosetta mission …

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  1. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Science is amazing

    And yet the main stream media is full of cleb tattle tale and rumour.

    Look to the stars!

    No, not those ones.

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Science is amazing

      Somebody gave me a very strange look when I said I was organising a star party. She wondered who I had invited, and when I answered that at least 4 people with scopes would be coming puzzlement was replaced by bafflement. Apparently she was expecting some celeb names.

      1. Dr Who

        Re: Science is amazing

        I take it you didn't pull.

        1. Peter Simpson 1
          Joke

          Re: Science is amazing

          You have to pull.

          How else do you set the hook?

  2. Scott Broukell

    And ...

    ... when the instrument package is landed there's a sign there saying "Private Land, Trespassers will be prosecuted, Wheel clamping area, No parking". Or maybe they will find one of those plastic-wrapped planning notices, al la Vogon, taped to a metal post of some kind.

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: And ...

      I utterly condemn the European intentions to illegitimately invade an independent and undefended comet. I call on ESA to immediately de-escalate the situation and to guarantee the territorial integrity of this and all other independent celestial bodies.

      Oh, crap, I think I just posted to the wrong website...

    2. VinceH Silver badge

      Re: And ...

      When I read the article, my thoughts turned to a science fiction story I read donkey's years ago - but I can't remember who it was by or what it was called, nor whether it was a novel in its own right, or a short story in an anthology.

      A manned mission lands on a comet (whether that the mission was something else and circumstances forced them to land, I don't know). When down, they found some kind of 'totem pole' on the comet, that appeared to have been built by different landing parties on the comet - different alien civilisations having landed there, and left their mark.

    3. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      My God, it's full of stars...

      "All these worlds are yours, except 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Attempt no landing there. Use them together. Use them in peace."

  3. Rustident Spaceniak

    Rosie must be getting there a bit faster

    If you just do the math, 800m/s isn't quite enough to travel 5 million km between now and the end of May. The ESA press release says the differential speed will be 800m/s then, but it's probably more like 1000m/s or a bit more just now. It'll apparently get less as the two trajectories of the comet and Rosie come closer to intersection. Orbital mechanics does that to you at times.

    Still, there's quite a bit of braking required to slow from about 150 times the average speed of a London double decker bus to more like the walking pace of a Welsh sheep.

  4. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Moving at 800 m/s

    Relative to what?

    1. Rustident Spaceniak
      Facepalm

      Re: Moving at 800 m/s

      Relative to the comic, err, comet, parbleu!

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

        Re: Moving at 800 m/s

        Relative to the comic, err, comet, parbleu!

        Exactly. It's absolute speed will be in the 1000s of Km/h

        Like docking or berthing at the ISS the relative speed comes down to cm/sec but absolute speeds of each body are around 32 000 Km/h.

        1. Tom_

          Re: Moving at 800 m/s

          There isn't really any such thing as absolute speed though, is there? I mean, the ISS is travelling around the galactic centre at a lot more than 32,000km/h, for example.

        2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Moving at 800 m/s

          "It's absolute speed..."

          Oh my God. The aether has finally been found. Michelson and Morley blew it. Einstein was wrong.

    2. M Gale

      Re: Moving at 800 m/s

      Relative to Kerbin, of course. I think they must have installed the Kerbal Attachment System mod to do the whole harpoon thing.

      Wonder how many science points that's worth?

    3. TitterYeNot

      Re: Moving at 800 m/s

      Obligatory Monty Python -

      Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving

      And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour,

      That's orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it's reckoned,

      A sun that is the source of all our power.

      The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see

      Are moving at a million miles a day

      In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour,

      Of the galaxy we call the 'Milky Way'.

      Etc...

  5. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Of course...

    ...if as well as your instrument package you included a rocket, you could have a game of cosmic pinball.

    Or, if you were American, you could drop the comet on the next country you wanted to have a war with...

    1. Uffish

      Re: drop the comet...

      A week is a long time in politics; and as for years ....

  6. safe cycling?
    Stop

    May

    "the plucky probe is just five million kilometers away from its quarry and should reach it by May this year."

    Ermmm - the video suggests that a slow down to match speed starts in May but that it will arrive at the comet in August, not May. In fact, you suggest the same later in the article.

    Confusing.....

  7. Tromos
    Joke

    "...took more than an hour to download"

    May I suggest switching to an ISP that does less 'traffic management'?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: "...took more than an hour to download"

      Without traffic management, your high speed sattylights will be crashing into each other. There is method in the madness.

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: "...took more than an hour to download"

      Preferably one with 5G. What's needed is Extra-terrestrial* PORN to kickstart the Interstellar Broadband Network**.

      Just 1 second to download a complete movie, such as "Earth Girls Are Easy" (1988)

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097257/

      * stop sniggering in the back there

      ** hopefully this comment will not be picked up by David Cameron's Special Advisors - else funding for an Interstellar Broadband Network will no doubt be in one of his speeches. In which case he would expect that it would be German know-how that would build it.

  8. James 51 Silver badge

    Stories like this don't get enough coverage in the press. Nice to see el reg aiming a little higher.

  9. Cirdan
    Coat

    Regarding relative speeds...

    Right now, the probe is approaching the comet with the speed of a relative coming to see the newly rich and famous cousin who is coming to the family reunion.

    Soon, it will be approaching the comet with the speed of a son returning home from university over Christmas break to do his laundry.

    This summer, its relative speed will be that of an old married guy going to see his mother-in-law.

    You see, it's relatives all the way down.

    ...Cirdan...

  10. Baron Ebaneezer Wanktrollop III

    They should have thought about putting some steerable thrusters on the lander to bring the rock into orbit around Terra. Play with it as much as they like then for years on end rather than be stuck with the limited instruments on board for a limited time.

    But I'm just an enthusiast with no technical knowledge of this awesomery. Just landing the damn thing on a comet puts my night approach to LAX on Flight Simulator X to shame.

    1. Irongut

      The point is to see what happens to the comet as it approaches the Sun and then moves away again. Parking it in Earth orbit would not achieve that.

    2. Paul Kinsler

      Re: bring the rock into orbit around Terra.

      ... isn't NASA planning such a mission? Although the aim is to put it in orbit around the moon instead....

      1. M Gale

        Re: bring the rock into orbit around Terra.

        Yep, and as you might have guessed by the Kerbal comment earlier, I've been watching the development of the officially-done-with-NASA-and-everything asteroid recovery mission pack for KSP, where the idea is to try and replicate what NASA are planning with your own crazy rocket construction ideas. Want. Oh do so much want.

        And if you've never played or even know about Kerbal Space Program, where the hell have you been? Go. Find it. Play it. Enjoy the rocket surgery. Oh, and the inevitable explosions and rapid unplanned disassembly.

  11. kmac499

    Next Pictures

    I'm looking forward to the next release of photos next Tuesday..

    They are rumoured to reveal the craters capped with dustbin lids and a tiny companion metal asteroid containing an Iron Chicken...

  12. Chris Cartledge
    Facepalm

    maneuvers?

    I would have thought manoeuvres...

  13. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Changed flight path?

    I'm wondering if the act of harpooning and landing might change the path of the comet a bit...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Changed flight path?

      Mass of the lander: 27kg

      Mass of the comet: 3,140,000,000,000kg

      No worries :-) - the normal out-gassing of the comet will be transferring a lot more momentum than the landing

  14. asdf Silver badge
    Megaphone

    Go Euros!

    Funny how much better your space program is when you aren't borrowing the grandkids money to start wars for fun. Especially when you are relying on your frenemy to even get into space but I digress. Still keep up the good work Euros. Science benefits us all.

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