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Living with a comet: A ROSINA team perspective

27 Sep 2016, 07:46 UTC
Living with a comet: A ROSINA team perspective
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Three ROSINA PhD students trying to wake up Rosetta. Image courtesy K. Altwegg
Rosetta’s ROSINA (Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis) suite of instruments have made plenty of big headlines over the last two years, with the surprising discovery of molecular oxygen and nitrogen and the ‘flavour’ of the comet’s water being different to Earth’s among them. ROSINA principal investigator Kathrin Altwegg and colleagues reflect on the highs and lows of the 40-strong team of scientists and technicians since Rosetta woke up from deep space hibernation on 20 January 2014.
Celebrating Rosetta's wake up at the University of Bern, 20 January 2014. Image courtesy K. Altwegg.
Things actually did not get off to a particularly good start for us: all three of our sensors gave us error event messages when we first switched them on in the April after hibernation exit. There was a flurry of emails from the operations team on duty at the time querying just how unexpected these events were supposed to be. It turned out that the problem was due to the detector temperature of the DFMS [Double Focusing Mass Spectrometer]: it was at -30.8°C while the limit for operation is -30°C!
Post-hibernation error ...

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