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Comet-chasing probe wakes up after 2 years

January 21st, 2014
02:01 PM ET

Yesterday the European Space Agency's comet-chasing Rosetta spacecraft woke up and phoned home before embarking on the final leg of its journey. In November its controllers are hoping to use it to land a small robot on a comet.

The probe was launched in 2004 and is now nearly 500 million miles from Earth, between the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn.

Becky spoke to Dr.  Paolo Ferri live from Darmstadt "After two and a half years we had a window of one hour... We came almost to the end of the window. We were very tense. We kept telling ourselves that it was nominal but we started to get worried. The feeling was incredible eventually. It was more relief than happiness in the beginning."

ESA controllers ordered Rosetta to shut down most of its systems in June 2011 to save on power as it sailed through the darkest reaches of the solar system. The amount of sunlight reaching the solar-powered probe is only 4% that on Earth, according to the ESA.

Text: Comet-chasing probe wakes up, calls home

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Filed under:  Becky's Interviews • Space