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.
via Ars Technica http://ift.tt/KyImzx