I was thrilled when the IET announced that they were organising a seminar on the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission. I’d followed the progress of the mission and the audacious landing of the Philae probe on the comet – it was fascinating to meet Paulo Ferri, the Operations Manager for the mission. Also speaking was Mark Bentley, Principal Investigator of the MIDAS instrument on board Rosetta.
I asked Paulo how the agency chose comet 67P as the target for the mission. Apparently, it wasn’t the original choice, but a failed Ariane rocket caused the mission to pause and the launch window for the original comet was missed. They re-examined the list of choices and given that Rosetta and Philae had already been built, the only other suitable comet for a mission of that type was 67P!