We will dearly miss this pairing, in truth. They were an enigmatic, captivating way to engage kids in space science, all over the globe. Yet, in silence, too — there is some heady solace — as some freeze, nearby — and some others burn. . . at a distance, indeed. As for our headline, it was coined by the fine black Irishman Seamus Haney: after the commanded journey, there may well be no next time ’round. . . and so, we will reiterate a bit of what we wrote, about 20 days ago on the topic:
By all accounts, ESA (the European Space Agency) ran an excellent science mission with Rosetta — and little Philae. We’ve covered it from time to time.
But as is true with all good things, they do come to an end. On September 30, that time comes — for this pair.
As the unwasted grace of these waning elliptical orbits draws to a close, we will see Rosetta join Philae on the comet’s surface, albeit on the other side of the comet — and then fall silent. So it is with many pairs, initially found, then lost — separated only to be reunited, and then. . . silently slipping into eternity. Yes, that’s the sort of poetry space offers us. Here’s a bit, from ESA:
. . . .The final flyover was completed on 24 September. Now, a short series of manoeuvres are underway, to line Rosetta up with the target impact site, over the three days as it transfers from flying elliptical orbits around the comet onto a trajectory that will eventually take it to the comet’s surface on 30 September. . . .
Now you’ll be able to follow Rosetta until touchdown on the comet surface, right here. Be excellent to one another — there’ll be no next time ’round — not for this little pair.