Rosetta orbiter will end mission this Friday, crash land on the comet it has been studying

rosetta probe crash landing roseta
The European Space Agency’s Rosetta Space Probe, which first orbited comet 67P in 2014 after a 10-year journey, is finally set to end its life this Friday. This will bring to an end the long-term mission, though scientists hope that during descent and at the point of impact, the probe can send further data about the comet and its composition.

Rosetta, along with its lander module, Philae, set forth from earth in March 2004 and performed a number of gravity assists past both Earth and Mars on its decade-long flight plan. This sent it into an orbit that was close enough to that of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, that on-board engines could slow the craft down to a low relative velocity, allowing for it to begin orbiting the comet.

Although there were some difficulties with the Philae lander, much important data was recovered from the comet, including details about its composition and potential age. Since that date in 2014, Rosetta has been sending back images and more information on the comet, but as the Comet’s orbit carries it farther away from the sun, Rosetta’s solar panels are losing the ability to power its internal functions.

Related: A landslide may have caused this brilliant comet outburst captured by Rosetta

When it officially touches down on 67P, where it will remain until the end of the comet itself, Rosetta’s job will finally be done, more than 12 years after its original launch from Earth’s surface.

While it might be nice to imagine Rosetta coming back online when the comet’s 6.5 year orbit sends it heading back towards the sun, unfortunately the probe is not designed to withstand any sort of impact, so it will be very unlikely to function after its touchdown on 67P.

For those looking to watch as the scientists who have babysat Rosetta from afar for so many years finally pull the plug on its mission, there will be a live-stream this Friday, September 30. It is expected to take place around 7:30 a.m. ET, give or take 20 minutes (thanks, so get there early if you want to see the moment itself.

Emerging Tech

Bright ‘hyperactive’ comet should be visible in the sky this weekend

An unusual green comet, 46P/Wirtanen, will be visible in the night sky this month as it makes its closest approach to Earth in 20 years. It may even be possible to see the comet without a telescope.
Emerging Tech

Say cheese: InSight lander posts a selfie from the surface of Mars

NASA's InSight mission to Mars has commemorated its arrival by posting a selfie. The selfie is a composite of 11 different images which were taken by one of its instruments, the Instrument Deployment Camera.
Emerging Tech

Parker Solar Probe captures first image from within the atmosphere of the sun

NASA has shared the first image from inside the atmosphere of the sun taken by the Parker Solar Probe. The probe made the closest ever approach to a star, gathering data which scientists have been interpreting and released this week.
Emerging Tech

We’re going to the Red Planet! All the past, present, and future missions to Mars

SpaceX isn't the only organization pining to visit the Red Planet. Here's a detailed list of all operational and planned missions to Mars, along with explanations of their objectives, spacecraft details, and mission proposals.
Emerging Tech

Gorgeous images show storms and cloud formations in the atmosphere of Jupiter

NASA's Juno mission arrived at Jupiter in 2016 and has been collecting data since then. NASA has shared an update on the progress of the mission as it reaches its halfway point, releasing stunning images of the planet as seen from orbit.
Emerging Tech

Beautiful image of young planets sheds new light on planet formation

Researchers examining protoplanetary disks -- the belts of dust that eventually form planets -- have shared fascinating images of the planets from their survey, showing the various stages of planet formation.
Emerging Tech

Meet the MIT scientist who’s growing semi-sentient cyborg houseplants

Elowan is a cybernetic plant that can respond to its surroundings. Tethered by a few wires and silver electrodes, the plant-robot hybrid can move in response to bioelectrochemical signals that reflect the plant’s light demands.
Emerging Tech

Delivery robot goes up in flames while out and about in California

A small meal-delivery robot suddenly caught fire in Berkeley, California, on Friday. The blaze was quickly tackled and no one was hurt, but the incident is nevertheless a troubling one for the fledgling robot delivery industry.
Emerging Tech

High-tech dancing robot turns out to be a guy in a costume

A Russian TV audience was impressed recently by an adult-sized "robot" that could dance and talk. But when some people began pointing out that its actions were a bit odd, the truth emerged ... it was a fella in a robot suit.
Emerging Tech

MIT’s smart capsule could be used to release drugs in response to a fever

Researchers have developed a 3D-printed capsule which can monitor patients' vital signs, transmit this information to a connected device, and release drugs in response to symptoms.
Emerging Tech

‘Crop duster’ robot is helping reseed the Great Barrier Reef with coral

In a world first, an undersea robot has delivered microscopic coral larvae to the Great Barrier Reef. Meet Larvalbot: the robot "crop duster" which dispenses coral babies on troubled reefs.
Emerging Tech

Self-driving dirt rally vehicle offers crash course in autonomous car safety

Georgia Tech's AutoRally initiative pushes self-driving cars to their limit by getting scaled-down autonomous vehicles to drive really, really fast and aggressively on dirt roads. Here's why.

Cities looking to get smart take a lesson from an iconic shopping mall

From Disney World to the Mall of America, public venues are becoming microcosms for smart city projects. We dove into both, to show what government officials can learn – and what you can expect from your city.

Forget painting-style transfers, this A.I. creates realistic portraits of fake people

Do these images look computer-generated? Nvidia researchers recently published a paper on a new variation on style transfer artificial intelligence that's able to generate entirely new portraits.