How Significant are Rosetta and Philae Space Flights?
Do you know what these space flights represent? The European Space Flight Rosetta, which stopped working after 12 years of space flight, had 11 scientific instruments that photographed comet 67P from all angles. Having arrived in the orbit of the comet 67P 700 million kilometers away from the Earth, Rosetta launched a Philae module on its surface with ten high-tech devices, from cameras and X-rays to a drill.
Rosetta and Philae together have multiplied the human knowledge of comets, which has billions of them and represent the 'remnants' of the birth of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago. "Nobody had the idea that the comets were so" weird "while Rosetta did not arrive, said Fabio Favat, European Space Agency's (ESA) robotics expert.
What did the mission reveal?
Scientists were expecting to encounter some egg shapes, like a ball for American football. They were surprised when Rosette cameras showed that the 67P resembled a rubber duck with a pronounced 'body' and 'head' and cracks on the 'neck'.
Such a form could not have been caused by erosion, experts say, but it is a consequence of a low-intensity collision of the two bodies that merged into one. This suggests that the comet was formed in the younger, outer part of the solar system where the 'traffic' of the space bodies was not so thick. Otherwise, the 67P would have been destroyed in this form if a larger body hit it.
The comet's surface to scientists was another surprise. Instead of something "soft", it received a hard surface, which made Philae bounce back from the ground several times before she could cling to its harpoons. The comet is full of pebbles and rocks in a diameter of a few centimeters to five meters.
Experts of the ESA were particularly surprised when they found oxygen molecules in the gaseous shell around the comet. Early scientific models based on calculations have shown that the presence of oxygen molecules is not possible at the time of making comets because it would merge with other elements, such as hydrogen.
But how the comet came to oxygen scientists have not yet studied.
The beginning of life
67P has many organic molecules, including amino acids, which are the foundation of life as we know it. The discovery supports the hypothesis that comets assisted the spark of life on Earth when they delivered to a young planet, through melting iron, organic materials through a number of collisions.
Water, on the contrary, probably did not come with a comet-like 67P. Water has a different 'taste' there than on Earth because it contains three times more deuterium, heavy hydrogen.
Analyzing the chemical signature of the planet, scientists have concluded that they probably 'smell' as a combination of rotten eggs, horse urine, alcohol and bitter almonds.
'If you could smell a comet, you would probably wish you haven’t,' said ESA expert Mark McCaughrean
Philae's magnetometer surprisingly showed that the comet has no measurable magnetic field, which calls into question one of the key theories about the creation of the solar system.
This discovery implies that magnetism did not play a role in attracting debris in the early solar system and the creation of planets, comets, asteroids, and moons.
Chests of merchandise
Scientists expect that the data collected by Rosetta and Philae will keep them busy for decades.
'I said this at the beginning, this mission will be the key to unlock the treasure chest or the mysteries of the solar system. I think we have found the key ... it is scattered on the floor and we must first put it together to open the chest, "McCaughrean said figuratively.
It's been ten years
It all started in 1993, when the first comet research mission in history was approved, worth 1.4 billion euros. There were 14 European countries and the United States involved. Rosetta and Philae were launched in 2004 from French Guiana. The goal of the mission was nothing short of the research of the origin of life by analyzing the dust from the comet 67P, the time capsules from the time of the solar system.
In ten years they traveled six billion kilometers to reach the comet. They used the gravity of Earth and Mars.
Rosetta spent two years in orbit, sensing, and photographed a comet from all angles. Philae sent samples of soil from the surface and elements analyzed through Rosette at the center of the mission in Darmstadt.
It is incredible how they contributed to help the scientists learn and discover more about comets and thanks to them we learned more from their shared experience. This is a very interesting and significant revelation that changed some of the wrong opinions we had about comets.