Have you ever heard of a comet? A comet is a gigantic piece of ice and rock and dirt that flies through outer space at incredible speeds. Many comets are the size of mountains and when they speed around space have a tail of gasses that can be hundreds of thousands of feet long.
For a long time, humans have seen comets in the sky and wondered what they are. Some very smart scientists decided they wanted to learn more about comets, so they decided to create a spaceship that would find a comet and land on it. This had never been done before, but they knew if they build the spaceship right and worked out all of the math correctly they could make it happen.
Many different countries in Europe designed and started working on the spacecraft they would call Rosetta. It took many different engineers and scientists studying space and spaceships to know how Rosetta should work.
Astronomers, scientists who know a lot about space, also had to follow the comet Rosetta would land on. They had to use math to figure out how fast Rosetta should go and where it should go to land on the large rocky comet flying around space.
Rosetta goes to space
When Rosetta was ready they blasted the ship into outer space and someone gave it directions to fly. No one was actually on Rosetta because it would be gone for a very long time and might be a very dangerous mission. They flew it sort of like you might fly a remote-controlled helicopter or car.
For 10 years Rosetta flew through outer space. It had many adventures there such as passing planets like Mars and asteroids, other rocks in space, and many places a spacecraft had never been. After 10 years, it finally was close enough to the icy comet speeding through space. All of the engineers and scientists at mission control were very nervous. They had worked very hard for this day and had been very patient waiting 10 years until they could land their ship. When the day finally came they watched in anticipation as Rosetta came into the orbit of the gigantic comet. This comet was as big as a mountain.
Philae lands on the comet
Attached to Rosetta was a robot that would land on the comet and do experiments to learn more about the comet. When the time was right the lander shot out of Rosetta and raced toward the massive comet below. For a moment it seemed as though it wouldn’t work. The lander was off track. Then, suddenly, it shot spears out of its side and stuck into the comet’s ground. It used these hooks and ropes to pull itself down to the ground. When it hit the ground it tumbled and was broken in some places but eventually came to rest. Everyone at mission control cheered. The robot had landed! Rosetta had completed its mission. This was the first time a robot had ever landed on a comet flying through space! The mission was a success!
Once the lander, which they had called Philae, had time to recharge its batteries, it was able to do a few experiments and send the data back to earth. They learned about the water on comets and some of its metals.
You can be just like the scientists
Like the scientists and engineers who designed and built Rosetta, you can learn all you can about science and other subjects. They had to listen closely and study and do their homework to become skilled at what they do.
Astronomers also helped by learning about the stars. You can go out at night and look at the stars and watch shows and read about all of the amazing things happening in the sky above you.
Waiting for Rosetta to finally reach the comment also took patience. They had to wait many years until it arrived. Over 2000 people worked on this project. This shows that teamwork is important to make great things happen. What would you like to do when you grow up? Think about it tonight. Use your imagination and make a list of the things you can do now to improve yourself. Then, pick one of them and start right away.