Blog posts with the tag ESA | Interested In Everything


Blog posts with the tag "ESA"

It looks like ESA and Rosetta are happily talking to one another!  Following on from my earlier post about the Rosetta probe and its long hibernation, I’ve just had a quick look at the ESA website and it appears that it successfully woke up on 20th January.  Apparently, the first “health checks” have been carried out and Rosetta is transmitting a signal back to Earth.  The flight control team had expressed some concerns that the solar panels were generating enough power, but the probe’s systems seem to be functioning correctly so far.  When you stop and think about this, it’s a little more complicated that the little solar panels on my rechargeable garden lights not quite getting enough power in the winter!  Rosetta is currently 673 million kilometres from the sun.  Read that again. 673 million.  Let’s do a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation.

Light travels at (approximately)* 3 x 108 m/s

673,000,000 km is equivalent to 6.73 x 1011 m

That means that it takes something in the region of 37½ minutes for the light to reach Rosetta’s solar panels from it leaving the sun.  I’m reminded of a quote from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy here:

“Space,” it says, “is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”

And who can argue with Douglas Adams?

*Light actually travels at 299,792,458 m/s.  I’m not going to lose sleep over my lack of accuracy…