Up Close and Personal with a Comet: The European Space Agency's Rosetta Mission

The Lovie Awards / June 2016

2015's Lovie Be Greater with Data Award Winner -- The European Space Agency -- made history by landing on a comet in 2015 with Rosetta, which is collecting data continually to help scientists learn about the birth of our world.

Outer space will forever be one our our greatest unknowns, a place where human curiosity can never die. Space exploration and research is constantly evolving, and the 2015 Lovie Be Greater with Data Award Winner--The European Space Agency--hit a huge milestone achievement in landing on a comet in the much-revered Rosetta Mission.

The Rosetta Mission launched in 2004 conceived to study comets by landing on one, a feat that had never been achieved. Rosetta reached its target comet in 2014 and has been collecting data ever since by squeezing measurements into a data transfer signal of only a few hundred megabytes per day. By the end of the mission, they will have around 400 gigabytes of raw cometary science data to feed decades of science and engineering investigations. With comets thought to be the very origins of earth and human life, this is an enormous, and historic windfall for science and humankind.

In partnership with Google for The Lovie Letters Series, The Lovie Awards team visited the offices at The European Space Agency in The Netherlands to hear firsthand from the Rosetta team about the birth of this project, and the experience of watching algorithms come to life in real time.. Here’s some of what Lead Project Scientist, Matt Taylor, had to say:

What does it mean to you to be recognised as a leading creator of the EU Internet?

With Rosetta, we have achieved something very special through the collaboration and cooperation internationally. It’s important to note that the story continues up to next year, when the spacecraft ceases operations but beyond that time, into the decades that follow when scientists use the data we have taken at the comet and look to unlock the secrets of our solar system.

When did you first know this project was going to be something special?

When my mum understood what I was doing as a job.

What role did Google products play in the project?

We use Google Drive and Google Hangouts to transfer discussion and knowledge within the team and to the broader community.

What was the biggest lesson you learned from this project?

That the public can be engaged successfully in scientific endeavour[s].

Watch the full Lovie Letter Series interview, presented by Google, for all of these insights and more.

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