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ESA’s Unmanned Spacecraft Rosetta Has AWOKEN TO FULFILL HER DESTINY

"Yeesh, that was a close one," says Science.


Citizens of Earth, the Rosetta spacecraft awoke from her slumber at the last minute after an agonizing wait yesterday. If you ever wanted to watch grown geniuses weep for joy, this is  your chance.

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) unmanned spacecraft Rosetta was scheduled to wake from thirty-one months of sleep yesterday and fulfill her destiny to discover the origins of life in the universe. And though she did eventually “phone home” (as literally every other news outlet is saying,) it was only after forcing ESA scientists to endure a grueling, over twelve-hour wait.

Rosetta was scheduled to wake up yesterday at 5:30 am, but members of the ESA anxiously awaited contact from inside the mission control center in Germany until 7 pm UST, less than an hour out from when they would have had to abandon waiting and try to restart Rosetta manually from the ground.

Scientists speculate that the delay was a result of her heaters slowly turning on in one of the coldest parts of space, but all we care about was that Rosetta’s eventual contact resulted in the most heartwarming displays of joy we will probably ever see from respected scientists with insane IQs.

“The spacecraft is there, it’s awake, and I think we are all overwhelmed,” mission manager Gerard Schwem said on Monday night, while head of ESA Mission Operations Paolo Ferri said he felt the spacecraft had made him “suffer after two and half years” by making them come “almost to the end of the window, we were very tense.” General Jean-Jacques Dordain, head of the entire ESA, is quoted as saying “I am nervous. All the time I do not hear the signal, I am nervous.”

When the tense crowd finally did receive contact from the sleepy spacecraft, it was a tweet that arrived after what reporters are describing as  eighteen minutes of terrified silence within mission control.

“We made it!” shouted Andrea Accomazzo, Rosetta’s spacecraft operations manager, upon receiving the message. “We can definitely see a signal from Rosetta!”

Here’s more proof that Rosetta’s return was enough to make even hardened rocket scientists lose their cool.

After announcing she was awake, Rosetta proceeded to tweet hello in a variety of languages. Her twitter is a great way to get the latest news about her mission, which promises to grow even more challenging in its final years.

In August Rosetta will begin flying with, studying, and eventually landing upon its target, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. There should be lots more opportunities for tears then.

(via CNN, The Guardian and, image via ESA)


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