The European Space Agency (ESA) today announced that the Rosetta spacecraft has successfully reactivated. The probe has been traveling in a suspended state beyond the orbit of Jupiter since June 2011.
Rosetta's internal alarm functioned as planned and the spacecraft was able to reboot itself this morning before sending a signal to Earth. Later this year the spacecraft will approach comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as it soars toward the sun.
“We have our comet-chaser back,” says Alvaro Giménez, director of Science and Robotic Exploration at ESA. “With Rosetta, we will take comet exploration to a new level. This incredible mission continues our history of ‘firsts’ at comets, building on the technological and scientific achievements of our first deep space mission Giotto, which returned the first close-up images of a comet nucleus as it flew past Halley in 1986.”
Rosetta will be the first spacecraft to attempt a landing on the surface of a comet. The spacecraft will provide data on the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet for over one year, giving researchers plenty of data with which to uncover the objects' mysteries.
Rosetta is expected to rendezvous with the comet in August. In the meantime, researchers will be checking the spacecraft's systems and readying it for a "major maneuver" that will take place in May.
Image via ESA-C.Carreau