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Rosetta comet probe will continue its mission until September 2016

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
June 23, 2015
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The Rosetta comet probe just got a new lease on life... if not a terribly long one. The European Space Agency has extended the space explorer's mission from its original December end to September 2016. That's only nine months, but it'll give scientists a shot at studying Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko close-up as it flies away from the Sun for some of that period. There's even a chance that Rosetta will get visual confirmation of where the Philae lander touched down, which hasn't been practical with the probe's relatively distant orbit.

Just don't count on another reprieve. The probe will be too close to the Sun a month after the mission's end, and it'll have used up too much propellant to simply put the craft in hibernation and wait for the next opportunity. Instead, the ESA hopes to land Rosetta on the comet itself and effectively call it quits. Don't be too sad, though. The spacecraft will collect data until the very end if this touchdown is feasible, so it'll at least go out in a blaze of glory.

[Image credit: ESA/ATG medialab]

In this article: comet, esa, probe, rosetta, science, space
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