Page 6

CIM36

SCIENCE AT WORK FOCUS Astronomy. ESA’s Rosetta orbiter continues to change our understanding of comets as scientists wait for the Philae lander to come back online this year. BY MARK REYNOLDS When ESA’s unmanned Rosetta spacecraft successfully intercepted comet 67P and landed the Philae probe, the world was transfixed— including the many CNRS scientists and engineers who contributed to the mission. Despite Philae’s shaky landing, much has already been learned about the comet’s composition. “The CNRS contribution to Philae is significant, with two instruments under French supervision, the CIVA1 camera array on one side and the CONSERT2 radar-like probe on the other,” explains IAS3 astrophysicist Jean-Pierre Bibring, one of two scientific coordinators for Philae. Bibring, the lead scientist behind the CIVA camera that sent back close-up images of the comet, adds that CNRS labs also made important contributions to the OSIRIS,4 VIRTIS,5 and COSIMA6 instruments as well as helping with technical aspects of the Rosetta mission, including its batteries, telemetry, and navigation.7 While Philae’s position on 67P means that it has gone dark until its batteries can recharge when the comet nears the Sun early this year, the Rosetta orbiter still sends data— much of it from the ROSINA8 mass spectrometer, VIRTIS thermal imaging spectrometer, and MIRO9 microwave receptor. With these instruments, Dominique Bockelée- Morvan of the LESIA10 and her colleagues have been observing 67P in detail since mid-2014. LAB WATCH INNOVATION The Philae lander detached from the Rosetta spacecraft on November 12, 2014. The image of comet 67P was taken with Rosetta’s on-board camera. 6 CNRS INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE ESA/ATG MEDIALAB; COMET IMAGE: ESA/ROSETTA/NAVCAM Rosetta: History in the Making


CIM36
To see the actual publication please follow the link above