Cosmic Time Capsules: Spacecraft as Archaeological Treasure


Cosmic Time Capsules: Spacecraft as Archaeological Treasure

An artist's impression of Rosetta waking from deep-space hibernation
to rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014. (c) ESA,
image by AOES Meidalab.

In May, the Rosetta spacecraft will make its final approach toward the
comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, after patiently stalking the space
rock for ten years. As the comet approaches its perihelion, it will
slow to dig its foot into a gravitational eddy and steer itself around
the sun. As it emerges, Rosetta will strike, launching a sensor-packed
lander like a javelin into the side of the comet. Harpooned in place,
the lander will allow us to reach out across the cosmos and caress a
billion-year-old piece of the solar system.

The experiments are scheduled to last two months, after which
Churyumov-Gerasimenko will have arced around the sun and begun
accelerating back out into deep space. When it does, it will take with
it a small piece of humanity anchored to its side. Forever after, this
relic of early 21st century technology will remain looping above us, a
time capsule buried ten years deep in space.

Read the full article here.
Frank Swain, Rhizome. 2014.