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Rosetta Spacecraft to be ‘woken’ from Deep Sleep

The Rosetta Mission will resume autonomously on January 20th at 10am UTC, when the spacecraft’s internal alarm clock is set to wake it up from it’s two and a half year hibernation. However, it won’t be until several hours later until the European Space Agency know if the ‘wake up’ was successful.

In July 2011, the Rosetta Spacecraft pointed its solar panels in the direction of the Sun and went to ‘sleep’. Despite having two enormous 14 metre solar arrays that allow it to operate many millions of miles from it’s power source (the Sun), this distant leg of the journey required Rosetta to conserve power.

Rosetta SpacecraftThis month, Rosetta’s internal alarm clock is set to wake the spacecraft from its deep sleep, when initially it will switch on its heaters to warm up the onboard star trackers enabling Rosetta to determine its 3 axis attitude. Once it knows where it is, it will spend several hours performing self checks and then orient itself to point its 2.2m high-gain antenna in the direction of Earth.

At the spacecraft’s current distance of 800m kilometres (500m miles), it will take a further 45 minutes for Rosetta’s signal to reach Earth. During this time, it will be an anxious wait for the European Space Agency who will be eager to assess Rosetta’s health.

Rosetta is currently around 9 million kilometres (5.6m miles) from Comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasmienko moving to around 2 million kilometres (1.2m miles) by early May. Towards the end of May, Rosetta will perform a major manoeuvre to put it in line for rendezvous with the comet this coming August.

You can read more about the Rosetta Mission and see LIVE data on our dedicated Rosetta Spacecraft Mission page which includes a mission timeline and current mission status updates.