As the European Rosetta space apparatus keeps on investigating Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as it slowly gets closer to the sun, it’s needed to manage some exceptionally severe orbital weather, setting off some perplexity in the shuttle’s automated navigation system.
As 67P’s surface gets more daylight, Rosetta sees an uptick in gas and dust impacting into space from the comet’s frosty core. Rosetta’s star tracker watches known stars and heavenly bodies to self-governing guarantee its high-pick up reception apparatus is continually indicating at Earth — much like sailors through history have utilized the stories explore the seas.
At the same time an increment in debris in the star tracker’s field of perspective can make it mixed up the splendid pieces of a comet as stars, setting off the shuttle to a point far from Earth. This unavoidably affected correspondences with Rosetta.
Amid Saturday’s flyby, which took Rosetta just 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) from the surface, the star tracker issue reemerged once more, perplexing the space apparatus off-kilter.
“Attempts were made to regain tracking capabilities, but there was too much background noise due to activity close to the comet nucleus: hundreds of ‘false stars’ were registered and it took almost 24 hours before tracking was properly re-established,” composes a Rosetta site upgrade.
All through these tracking troubles, mission control was mindful that the navigation lapses were mounting, pushing Rosetta further and further off-point. As Rosetta changed to safe mode, all science instruments were shut down and just the most crucial systems were up and running.
Through Sunday and Monday, mission researchers had the capacity work through the safe mode and convey the space apparatus back to normal operations, sending it in a direction that will take it 200 kilometers (125 miles) from the core and far from the debris causing the navigation hassles.
Yet another close pass of 67P is arranged and there are issues toward Rosetta’s safety, particularly as we are prone to see an increment in cometary movement (and consequently much more debris) as Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko approaches perihelion (point of nearest approach in its orbit around the sun) in August.
These late inconveniences highlights how harsh is can be to examine a comet at such close quarters and these lessons will undoubtedly affect mission planning — especially whether or not, amid Rosetta’s next close approach, the space apparatus ought to again venture so close.