Comet-bound probe Rosetta wakes up: 'Hello, world!'

    1:52 PM, Jan 20, 2014   |    comments
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    (USA TODAY) -- The hibernating European space probe Rosetta that will rendezvous with a comet more than 500 million miles from Earth this summer woke up Monday after two years asleep to tweet: "Hello, world!"

    It then tweeted the same message in many languages, from "Hallo, welt!" to "Ciao, mondo!" to "Ahoj svet!"

    "My antennas started tingling a few hours ago with all the shouting and wonderful #wakeuprosetta messages. Thank you!" Rosetta reported.

    As if anxious to make up for lost time, the chatty probe kept up the outerspace patter: "I tried to remember some European languages... I'd love to hear how you say "Hello world" in your language!

    The tweets signaled that the spacecraft, which was in sleep mode to preserve power, is getting set for the big meet-up with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August.

    Rosetta was launched in 2004 on a 10-year journey to the comet. It is scheduled to go into orbit around the comet for more than a year and eventually place a small lander on the comet's surface.

    The spacecraft carries the 220-pound lander called Philae. Only the probe's main computer and some heaters stayed on to keep it alive during its hibernation, European Space Agency officials said.

    The probe is about 500 million miles from Earth, near Jupiter's orbit, and radio transmissions will take 45 minutes at the speed of light to reach listening stations in Australia and the United States.

    The Rosetta spacecraft took about seven hours to warm up, operate its navigation gear and fire rocket thrusters to reposition itself.

    Rosetta is not the only passenger tweeting on the journey. MIDAS, the pack of scientific gear that will collect, measure and analyze dust from the comet, has its own Twitter handle (@RosettaMIDAS) had this to say after Rosetta sounded the wake-up call: "after the nerve-wracking #WakeUpRosetta today, we instruments have to wait our turn to be switched on and tested"

    And another stowaway Philae Lander (@Philae2014), which will land on the comet's surface, re-tweeted Rosetta's "Hello, world!" tweet and added a few words of its own: "Glad to hear we're on our way!"

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