Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

    Probe sheds light on distant comet

    For the first time ever mankind has landed a probe on the surface of a comet. The European Space Agency’s (ESA) robotic lander Philae touched down on Comet 67P/Churymov-Gerasimenko on Wed., Nov. 12.
    Pictures of the comet made their way across internet forums and twitter feeds everywhere, and the ESA live-streamed the control room during landing. People all over the world watched as scientists and engineers clapped, cheered and hugged when their decade’s worth of hard work paid off. 
    Rosetta, the unmanned probe carrying the Philae lander, took off on it’s journey toward the comet in 2004. In 2007 Rosetta flew behind Mars, swinging it in a new trajectory. Another flyby with an asteroid in 2008 left the ESA with a 90 minute radio silence between control and Rosetta. In 2010 Rosetta sent back the first pictures it took of the largest asteroid ever visited by satellite. 
    In 2011 Rosetta shut down to conserve energy, and in Jan. of 2014 it woke from hibernation and sent it’s first signal back to Earth. In Aug. 2014 Rosetta began to make it’s way into the comet’s orbit. Three months later it touched down. 
    This mission will offer scientists incredible new information about what lies in space. The probe and lander will be collecting every conceivable type of data, from pictures of the surface, to air and soil samples. One of the more surprising findings so far is an audio recording of the comet upon approach by Rosetta. The sound has been described by many as something you might hear from “Predator” of the Predator sci-fi franchise.
    The strangely rhythmic recording consists mostly of clicking and something that sounds similar to wind. It goes up in pitch until reaching a very high tone, then fades out. The original sound is too low for human hearing to detect, so the ESA increased the frequencies on the recording they released to make it audible for those of us on Earth. 
    Regarding the recording, the ESA said, “The scientists think it must be produced in some way by the activity of the comet, as it releases neutral particles into space where they become electrically charged due to a process called ionisation, but the precise physical mechanism behind the oscillations remains a mystery.” 
    This sound is just a small piece of the information the ESA has received from their comet probes, but more new and exciting discoveries can be expected. The Philae probe spent it’s remaining battery life gathering and transmitting data, but it’s expected to enter a second round of exploration in Aug. 2015 when scientists hope the probe’s solar panels will be exposed to enough sunlight for a recharge.

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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