Rosetta spacecraft has been hibernating for most of the past three years to save power. The alarm was set for 10am this morning, but is expected to take seven hours to totally wake up. Take a look at the videos…
Update: Rosetta is awake and in great form!
Images © ESA
Rosetta spacecraft launched in 2004, has since traveled around the sun five times, now aims to better understand the composition of comets.
Rosetta is chasing comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko and, since its launch in 2004, has made three flybys of Earth and one of Mars to build up enough speed and get on a trajectory towards the comet. It has also encountered asteroids Steins and Lutetia along the way.
Operating on solar energy alone, the spacecraft was placed into a deep space slumber in mid-2011 as it cruised far from the Sun and out towards the orbit of Jupiter. To prepare for its long sleep, Rosetta was oriented so that its solar arrays faced the Sun and put into a once per minute spin for stability.
How Rosetta wakes up from deep space hibernation
Visualisation of how the Rosetta spacecraft wakes up from deep space hibernation, 673 million kilometres from the Sun, on 20 January 2014.
Prior to entering hibernation on 8 June 2011, Rosetta was oriented so that its solar arrays faced the Sun, and it began rotating once per minute for stability. The only devices left running were its computer and several heaters.
Rosetta’s computer is programmed to carry out a sequence of events to re-establish contact with the Earth on 20 January, starting with an ‘alarm clock’ at 10:00 GMT. Immediately after, the star trackers begin to warm up. Around 6 hours later the thrusters are fired and the slow rotation stops.
How the Rosetta spacecraft will orbit a comet