Rosetta – a historic mission that won the world's hearts – just came to its finale (September 30, 2016). I traveled to Darmstadt, Germany to join the scientists and everyone else who was involved in the mission to watch live from the European Space Mission Control Center the final moments of the Rosetta spacecraft that was to land on the comet 67P. It was a very sensitive moment for everyone, especially those who were working on this mission for 20 years. "The signal is lost" – was announced when hundreds of eyes in the auditorium and thousands online were glued to the screen. It was a moment of silence, it took a while for everyone to realize THAT WAS IT, the spacecraft was on the comet, it can not communicate to us any longer. A tornado of applauds followed next. Everyone on the screen and in the room were hugging and congratulating each other. A few tears were easily noticed.
What we saw on the screen was green colored schematics of the signal sent by Rosetta spacecraft. Comet 67P was as far as Jupiter from Earth, it takes 40 minutes to receive the signal that travels at the speed of light. So technically we were waiting to hear from the past.
Later on I had a chance to visit the Space Mission Control room. It felt very special. A magical place indeed, that makes dreams happen far away from Earth.
The data received during this mission will keep scientists occupied for a very long time. We are now closer to answering questions of how water came to Earth and how life travels through out the Universe.
I would like to extend my special thanks to so many people who supported my artistic work inspired by Rosetta, especially:
Claudia Mignone, an astrophysicist, science writer for ESA and co-manager, author and editor of the ESA Rosetta blog, based at ESTEC, The Netherlands.
Mark McCaughrean, Senior Scientific Advisor, ESA
Matt Taylor, Project Scientist, ESA Rosetta