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Toward the end of 2016, after three decades’ worth of planning and 12 years in space, the European Space Agency’s historic mission, Rosetta, ended. The unprecedented mission managed to establish a rendezvous with a comet, which means that it stayed in close proximity to a comet—orbiting at a speed of 30 to 40 kilometers per second—for over two years. It took 10 years just to reach and maintain the proper speed to establish the rendezvous. Dr. Paolo Ferri is Head of the ESA Mission Operations Department, and for today’s episode, he brings all of the insight and experience gained from having worked on the Rosetta mission. He explains the challenges presented by the comet’s gas and dust emissions, what it was like as Rosetta approached the nucleus of the comet, the characteristics of the surface of the comet and how they changed as the comet approached the sun, and some of the most surprising findings.

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