Landing on the comet.

By all indications, we have entered an era of new discoveries.Many of last year with bated breath watching the mission "Rosetta."Landing on the comet, the first in history, was a complex operation, as well as the entire program as a whole.However, these difficulties do not diminish the importance of both the event and the data that is already extracted and still delivers a space probe.Why he needed a landing on the comet, and the results obtained in astrophysics?This will be discussed below.

main mystery

We start from afar.One of the main challenges facing all of the scientific world - understand that contributed to the birth of life on Earth.Since antiquity on the subject expressed the mass hypotheses.One of the modern version is that not the last role was played by the comet in the set to fall onto the planet during its formation.It is believed that they could become providers of water and organic molecules.

Certificate beginning

This hypothesis itself perfectly justifies the interest of scientists, from astronomy to biology, to comets.However, there are still some interesting moments.Tailed space objects through space are fairly detailed information about what happened in the very early stages of the formation of the solar system.It then formed the majority of comets.Thus, landing on a comet gives you the opportunity to explore just matter of which the universe was formed, our slice of more than four billion years ago (and no time machine not necessary).

In addition, the study of the motion of the comet, its composition and behavior during the approach to the Sun gives you a wealth of information about such cosmic objects, allows you to check a lot of assumptions and scientific hypotheses.

Background

Naturally, tailed "travelers" have been studied with the help of satellites.It was made by seven spans of comets, in which photographs were taken, collect certain information.It was precisely spans as long support of the comet - a complicated matter.In the 80 miners such as these were US-European and Soviet apparatus ICE "Vega".The last of these meetings took place in 2011.Then data collected caudate space object apparatus Stardust.

Previous research has given scientists a wealth of information, but for an understanding of the specifics of comets and the answer to many of the above questions is not enough.Gradually scientists came to realize the need quite a bold move - organizing the flight of the spacecraft to the comet followed by the landing of a probe on its surface.

unique mission

In order to get a feel for how landing on the comet difficult operation, it is necessary to understand that all this is a cosmic body.It sweeps through space at high speed, sometimes reaching several hundred kilometers per second.Thus the comet's tail, which is formed at the approach of the body to the sun, and so beautiful looking from the Earth, is a mixture of gas and dust.All this greatly complicates not only the land but also the movement of a parallel course.It is necessary to equalize the speed of the machine with the speed of the object and choose the right time to bring together the closer the comet to the Sun, the more emissions from its surface.And only then can be made landing on the comet, which will be more complicated, and low levels of gravity.

Select object

All these circumstances make it necessary thorough approach to the choice of the mission objectives.Landing on the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko - not the first option.Initially it was assumed that the probe "Rosetta" will be sent to the comet Wirtanen.However, in the case of plans intervened: shortly before the expected dispatch engine failure at the launch vehicle "Ariane-5".That she had to withdraw "Rosetta" in space.As a result, the launch was postponed and it was necessary to select a new object.They and became a comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, or 67P.

This cosmic object was discovered in 1969 and named in honor of the discoverers.It refers to the number of short-period comets, and makes one revolution around the Sun in about 6.6 years.Nothing particularly remarkable 67P is different, but has a well-studied the flight path, not beyond the orbit of Jupiter.It went up to her and "Rosetta" March 2, 2004.

Ā«Filling" spacecraft

probe "Rosetta" took with him into space a large amount of equipment for research and recording their results.Among them is the camera that can capture radiation in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum, and apparatus necessary for studying the structure of the comet and analysis of soil, and devices for the study of the atmosphere.Total available "Rosetta" was 11 scientific instruments.

Separately need to stop for the descent module "Fila" - that he had to carry out a landing on a comet.Part of the high-tech equipment is placed right on it because it was necessary to explore the space object immediately after landing.In addition, "Fila" was equipped with three harpoons to secure the surface after it after "Rosetta".Landing on the comet, as already mentioned, it is associated with certain difficulties.Gravity here is so small that in the absence of additional module mounting risks to get lost in space.

Long Way

landing on a comet in 2014 was preceded by a decade of flying probe "Rosetta".During this time, he found himself five times as far from Earth, flying next to Mars, met two asteroids.Gorgeous pictures taken probe in this period, once again reminded of the beauty of nature and the universe in different corners of her.

However, it may be a logical question: why "Rosetta" so long circling the solar system?It is understood that the photographs and other data collected during the flight, not its purpose, but rather were a pleasant and interesting bonus for researchers.The purpose of this maneuver - to approach the comet back to level and speed.The result of a decade of the flight was to be the actual transformation of the "Rosetta" in the satellite comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Convergence

Now, in April 2015, we can confidently say that the landing of the probe on the comet as a whole was successful.However, in August last year, when the device only went into orbit of the cosmic body, it was more a matter of the nearest future.

comet probe landed on 12 November 2014.For planting should be practically the whole world.Undocking "Fila" was successful.The problems began at the moment of landing: harpoons did not work and the machine was not able to gain a foothold on the surface."Fila" twice bounced off the comet, and only on the third time, was able to go down, and he was thrown from the place of intended landing about one kilometer.

As a result, the module "Fila" was in an area where almost do not penetrate the sun's rays, the energy needed to fill the batteries.In case you landing on the comet will happen is not entirely successful, the machine was equipped with a charged battery, designed for 64 hours.He worked for a little less than 57 hours, but during that time, "Fila" managed to do almost everything, what was created.

results

Landing on the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko allowed scientists to obtain comprehensive data about the cosmic body.Many of them have not yet been processed or that require analysis, but the first results are already presented to the general public.

study cosmic body shape is similar to a rubber duck (landing on a comet is expected in the area "head"): the two are comparable in size rounded parts are connected by a narrow isthmus.One of the tasks facing astrophysicists - understand the reason for such an unusual silhouette.Today put forward two main hypotheses: either the result of a collision between two bodies, or to the formation of the Isthmus resulted in erosion.At the moment, the exact answer is not received.Through research, "Fila" was only known that the level of gravity on a comet is not the same.The largest component is observed in the upper part of the kernel, and the lowest - just in the "neck".

Relief and internal structure

Module "Fila" found on the surface of a comet different education in appearance resembling mountains and sand dunes.In its composition, the majority of them are a mixture of ice and dust.The hills up to 3 meters, called ants on 67P occur quite often.Scientists suggest that they were formed in the early stages of formation of the solar system and can cover the surface and other such celestial bodies.

As the probe descended comet not the best way, the scientists were afraid to start the planned drilling surface.However, it is still carried out.It was found that under the top layer is another more dense.Most likely, it is made of ice.In favor of this assumption and vibration analysis, fixed unit during landing.However, the pictures show spectrographs unequal ratio of organic compounds and ice: the first is clearly more.It does not agree with the assumptions of scientists and questioned the version of the origin of comets.It was assumed that it was formed in the solar system, in the vicinity of Jupiter.The study of images, however, refutes this hypothesis: apparently, 67P formed in the Kuiper Belt, located beyond the orbit of Neptune.

Mission continues

spacecraft "Rosetta", closely followed the work of the module "Fila" until his sleep, did not leave the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko until now.He continued to watch the object and send data back to Earth.Thus, among his responsibilities include fixing emission of dust and gas, which increase as you get closer to the Sun, the comet.

previously been shown that the major source of these emissions is the so-called neck of the comet.The reason for this may be the low gravity of the area and the resultant effect is the accumulation of solar energy reflected from the neighboring areas.In March of this year, "Rosetta" and recorded the emission of dust and gas, an interesting fact that it occurred on the dark side (as a rule, such phenomena arise from the heating surface, that is on the sunny side of the comet).All these processes and features 67P remains to be explained is the data collection continues.

first in the history of mankind landing on the comet's surface was a result of the labor of a large number of scientists, technicians, engineers and designers for nearly forty years.Today, the mission "Rosetta" is recognized as one of the most momentous events of the space age.Naturally, the astrophysicists do not intend to put an end to this.Among the ambitious plans for the future include the creation of a descent module that will be able to move around on the surface of comets, and spacecraft that can get close to the object, to collect soil samples and return them to Earth.In general, the successful project "Rosetta" encourages scientists to increasingly bold program to develop the mysteries of the universe.