On Jan 20, 2014, people all around the world will take part in the European Space Agency’s Wake Up, Rosetta event. The Rosetta mission is a daring attempt to land on a comet in order to find out more about the early stages of the Solar System and the source of water on Earth. Launched in 2004, Rosetta has travelled throughout the solar system and around the Sun five times. When travelling towards the orbit of Jupiter, Rosetta went into deep hibernation; the spacecraft’s internal alarm clock is set for 10:00 GMT on January 20, 2014. When it wakes, it will find itself 673 million kilometres away from the Sun and on course to its destination, the comet 67-P Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
The Rosetta event is a scientific, but also Irish, triumph. Irish scientists have worked directly on the mission: CAPTEC, a software company based in Malahide, Co.Dublin, worked on the software that helps Rosetta communicate with the smaller probe that will land on the comet’s surface in November; Space Technology Ireland at NUI Maynooth built mission critical hardware to deal with data being returned by the lander; scientists in Cork’s Tyndall National Institute are working on microelectronics technology testing for similar ESA space missions. These, and every scientist working on comet missions, will benefit enormously from the data returned by this mission.
There are several key events this year in the Rosetta mission. Rosetta will catch up with the comet, get into orbit around it, map the surface and then deploy its lander, Philae. Before any of this, however, Rosetta must wake from a lengthy hibernation, warm up and re-establish contact with Earth.
To celebrate this historic event in Ireland, CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory (CIT BCO) will host a FREE Wake Up Rosetta event all day on Jan 20 in association with the European Space Education Resource Office (ESERO Ireland). In the morning, BCO will welcome 100 lucky students, winners of the Rosetta Competition to the award winning visitor centre, Cosmos at the Castle, Ireland’s interactive space science exhibit and the public in the afternoon.
In the morning, students will make their own comets and Rosetta Ribbons; see an all-new bespoke comet-based planetarium show in Ireland’s only full-time planetarium; and witness a live video link to Rosetta Mission Control at the European Space Agency. The participating students will also meet Irish scientists and researchers working on ESA missions so they can explore this exciting and achievable career path. The students will also engage in the first ever schools’ video link up with Tyndall National Institute, where they will speak to scientists live in the Tyndall lab who will demonstrate Cork-based space mission microelectronics technology testing.
In the afternoon, the public can visit BCO for FREE from 14:30-17:00 to witness the live link up with Rosetta and enjoy the bespoke comet-hunter experience (Shows at 15:00 and 15:30, Numbers limited to 15 per planetarium show on a first come first served basis). Attendees will also meet with real-life scientists working in Ireland and discuss the technology, advances and the exciting world of space science and robotics.
According to Stephanie O’Neill, ESERO Ireland Manager, “the event is an exciting collaboration between ESERO Ireland, ESA, Tyndall National Institute and CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory. Rosetta is a real comet hunter in deep space and this event is giving people the opportunity to be there when it wakes and to speak to scientists who are working in Ireland on missions such as this. This exciting work is happening every day in Ireland and will hopefully further stimulate the public’s interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths)”.
Wake Up Rosetta