Understanding the Distant Pasts
The Rosetta Mission, which rendezvoused last fall with the comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, acquired its name from a town in Egypt. The Egyptian locals also know the town as Rashid. The village is where Pierre-François Bouchard, a French soldier, found the ancient basalt stone or stele in 1799, which contained three different ancient languages.
The top section's script was a form of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. The midsection contains Demotic script, which is a different form of Egyptian hieroglyphs. The bottom section held an ancient version of Greek. What we call the Rosetta Stone is but a portion of a larger stele, which over the past two millennia has been broken, and the missing parts have not been found.
Hence, it made sense when the European Space Agency (ESA) selected the name Rosetta to name their mission to the comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This picture is of the comet taken by one of the Rosetta Mission's cameras.
The Rosetta Mission would provide a great deal of information regarding what the early solar system contained and how it developed 4.5 billion years ago. This is what the Rosetta mother ship looks like.
The Rosetta Mission landed on a comet, which dates back 4.5 billion years. This timeframe is the period of the pre-solar nebula from which our sun and solar system were created. The Rosetta Mission singled out the comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, to be the best source of information of this pre-solar nebula.
Comets in general have seeded the solar system with water along with complex organic molecules, which were a part of the reason for life here on Earth. When we look closely at 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, we will better understand the naissance of our solar system. One of the advantages of comets is that they have not evolved like plant or animal life has on Earth. What we find on comets like 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is 4.5 billion old data that has not changed over billions of years. This period of our solar system's development is what ESA calls the "under construction" period or the building block of our solar system.
The Rosetta mother ship embarked on its task of racing around our solar system on March 2, 2004 to rendezvous with 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which took nearly a decade. To conserve electrical energy on that long flight, mission control put Rosetta into "deep space hibernation" on June of 2011 only to be awakened on my birthday, January 20, 2014. I need to thank someone at ESA for picking my birthday that I share with George Burns.
The following chart shows the entire voyage from blast off to rendezvous.
This is a video by ESA showing the flight.
By August 2014, the Rosetta caught up with 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and prepared to touch down on the comet with Philae, its lander, on November 12, 2014. Mission Control's landing site was named Agilkia. The following picture is an artist's conception of the Rosetta spaceship after releasing Philae to land on the comet.
Philae made a successful landing at the Agilkia location but bounced a couple of times before finally coming to rest on the comet.
Not only have ESA scientists spent time planning the mission, but also they have spent time determining the name for not only the Rosetta spaceship, but also Philae, which was the temple complex having to do with the Rosetta Stone. The Philae complex was on Agilkia Island located in the Upper Nile. The Philae complex was relocated to Agilkia Island due to the creation of the Aswan Dam and the resultant flooding of the original island due to the new dam.
Several days after Philae landed on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, its batteries died. After bouncing several times during its initial landing, it wound up next to a large rock that blocked it from getting sunlight to renew its batteries. Nonetheless, Rosetta will follow the comet until the mission ends in December of 2015. Rosetta will have flown more than 4-billion miles on its space odyssey.
It will be interesting to read about what the Rosetta Mission provided humans from the very distant past. For the time being, Jack and Owen went over their arts and science class. Jack is going over some of Turner's paintings.
Owen seems to enjoy van Gogh's painting especially the red poppies and the sunflower.
Jack wants to know whether he can turn to the next page even though Owen is engrossed in van Gogh's sunflower painting while holding Big Bird.
Jack turns the page to the science section, and Owen toddles off. Jack actually seems to understand the concept of the morphing of the Mission with the Stone.
The following video is from the BBC on the Rosetta Stone.
This is a video of Dr. Ulamec explaining that Philae's anchors not firing, which cause it to bounce as it landed on the comet.