dr Matt Taylor
the rosetta Project scientist tells all
What is the Rosetta team’s primary objective?
Previous cometary missions have provided snapshots of comets from hundreds of kilometres away, but for the first time we will ride along with one. And if that’s not enough, the cherry on the top is that we will deploy a lander on to its surface.
What do we want to learn from this comet?
Comets are interesting as they were thrown out into deep freeze at the outer edge of the solar system. Every so often, gravity brings them back into the inner system. This comet can be considered a cosmic time capsule, in a way, containing relatively primordial material from the building blocks of space.
Might we one day be able to use comets as a resource?
Given the very major technological challenges involved in rendezvousing with a comet, let alone deploying the lander, I would consider them to be a rather difficult and exceedingly costly resource. However, the amazing journey that Rosetta has undergone and the upcoming challenge of actually landing on the comet will no doubt provide valuable technological lessons to help when planning all future planetary missions.