Dr Gerhard Schwehm, initiator and until recently the Rosetta Mission manager, will be giving a lecture at the University of Twente in the evening of 24 November. Schwehm, who was born in Germany in 1949 and retired earlier this year, was involved with the mission from its beginnings in 1985.
He will be bringing his audience up to date with how things currently stand with the historic Rosetta Mission, which sent a probe into deep space, and will be talking about his work at the European Space Agency (ESA).
Schwehm obtained his doctoral degree from Ruhr University Bochum and then went on to carry out research into the dust environment for Halley's comet for the European Space Operations Centre. He then became the ESA's first planet scientist, going on to become the Rosetta Mission's lead scientist and mission manager.
Twente connection to Rosetta satellite
In addition to the Philae lander, which recently touched down on a comet, the Rosetta satellite has 11 devices for scientific analysis on board. One of those instruments is MIDAS (Micro-Imaging Dust Analysis System), which inspects the dust environments of asteroids and comets. It provides information about the dust particles in the tails of comets. There is a Twente connection to MIDAS.
The University of Twente provided four of the sixteen MIDAS sensors with a magnetic layer. Using these magnetic sensors, scientists can determine whether the dust particles are made of iron oxide. This contribution to the mission was made by Martin Siekman and Leon Abelmann (Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science/Centre for Telematics and Information Technology).
An overview of all of the instruments on board the Rosetta satellite can be found here.
Rosetta is a space probe funded by the ESA. In 2014, the Rosetta probe positioned itself in the orbit of the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet in order to study it. On 12 November, a lander (named Philae) detached itself from the space probe and the objective was for it to land on the comet.
Following its first touchdown, Philae bounced on the comet and landed a second and third time. Scientists suspect that the lander has touched down in the shadow of a cliff and that there is insufficient sunlight for it in that position. The space explorer is now in standby mode and its battery is flat. All of its instruments have been switched off. As the comet comes closer to the sun over the coming months, the batteries will probably be able to be recharged and then the explorer will be able to carry out more research.
The ESA has published stunning photographs of this historic landing on a comet.
Week of Inspiration
Gerhard Schwehm is coming to the University of Twente as part of the Week of Inspiration. You can find more information about this week at www.utwente.nl/weekofinspiration. Dr Schwehm's lecture will start at 19:30 on 24 November and will take place in lecture theatre number 1 in the Waaier building. You can register for the lecture here.
Seven UT students who are currently following an excellence programme or have followed one in the past are organizing the Week of Inspiration. The excellence programmes offer an additional challenge to talented students who like to explore off the beaten track, offering them the opportunity to look for ways in which their ideas can have an impact on society. The programmes combine engineering and technology with social sciences.