Relief as Rosetta wakes, but we continue to hold our breath

As one of the scientists involved in the Rosetta mission, news that the unmanned spacecraft has woken up and restored contact with Earth comes as a great relief. It contains an instrument I first began designing while working on my PhD—a project in which I have invested more than 20 years.

It was on January 14, 1993 that I drew some sketches of a concept for an instrument that could be sent to a comet. I am certain of the date because I still have those two sheets of paper. Ever since starting my PhD, I have been involved in building instruments and I have always been planning for the possibility that one day there might be a space mission that would travel to a comet, collect materials from its surface, and eventually bring them back to Earth for analysis.

Despite the long odds of achieving this, I was not fazed. Initially, prototypes were built out of bulky components, connected to an electric grid, occupying a space the size of a couple of office desks. But still, we created instruments with unique capabilities for analyzing samples brought back to Earth from comets.

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via Ars Technica


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