Chairman of the Aerospace Committee of the Ministry of Investment and Development of Kazakhstan, Prime Minister’s adviser on space and aviation Talgat Musabayev has praised the first ever landing of a space probe on the surface of a comet, a Tengrinews correspondent reported from the sidelines of the international seminar «Days of Space in Kazakhstan» that took place in Astana last week.
The Kazakh test pilot and former astronaut who participated in three spaceflights, Musabayev congratulated the European Space Agency on the successful mission.
«The European Space Agency has made another real step towards space exploration, and not of the near space. Rosetta spacecraft has landed on a comet, on the central part – the nucleus. This is a serious scientific, technical and technological achievement,” he said.
“This suggests that humanity has moved another few meters forward in the study of the outer space, of the deep cosmos. And it shows that we are not focused only on orbital flights around the Earth. It is time to explore deep space. I congratulate the scientists, engineers and experts of the European Space Agency on this occasion,» said Musabayev, who has been the head of Kazakhstan’s National Space Agency KazCosmos since 2007.
European Space Agency (ESA) sent a small landing module called Philae of the space probe Rosetta to chase 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet and land on its three-kilometer long nucleus to study its properties.
Rosetta mission was launched in March 2004. The space probe was sent into space to move along a complex path around the Sun, approaching the orbit of Jupiter. The probe flew near Mars and three times close to the Earth. It went into hibernation in June 2011, when most of its on-board equipment was turned off. The alarm successfully “woke up” the system on January 20 and the on-board equipment was restarted.
But the landing was bumpy. The module bounced off from the surface of the comet twice. In addition, Philae landed in the shadow of a cliff that prevents most of the solar energy need to recharge the module from getting to its solar panels. This means that the battery will die off sooner than expected and scientists will have less time to study the chemical composition of the comet.
Nevertheless, the module made the landing and has been sending large amounts of data and amazing pictures back to the Earth. For the first time in history a space probe landed on the surface of a comet nucleus.
Musabayev, who took two long-duration spaceflights to the Russian space station Mir and one short-term visiting mission to the ISS, said that Rosetta was an opportunity to explore the properties of the new surface and compounds that could be used in creating new materials for space technologies.
By Dinara Urazova (Assemgul Kassenova contributed to the story)