Past Meetup

Cafe Sci 2: “The Rosetta Mission: Catch up with the Comet Chaser"

This Meetup is past

14 people went

Location image of event venue


Greetings heathens and science lovers! Time again for Café Sci 2. The Cafe Sci website has not yet been updated with this breaking news - you're the first to see it!! (full topic outline at the bottom). The next Cafe Sci 2 is set for next Wed (5/21)! As always, we'll be on the 2nd floor of Brooklyn's.

Cafe starts at 6:30 and is usually done around 8:15. We always recommend you arrive by 6 (or earlier) for a good seat. Also, the Café is open seating - any unoccupied chair is fair game.

Parking: should be free (or possibly $1) in Pepsi Center Lot A (aka 'Camry' lot), which is directly across from Brooklyns' front door - just south off Chopper Circle. ***If there happens to be a parking attendant, just tell them you're attending a science presentation at Brooklyn's.***

For those new to the group: this is not an official atheist meetup. Cafe Sci is open to the general public. However, folks from our group usually occupy the long rectangle of tables in the center of the room. If you don't know anyone, just ask if they're from the "meetup" group. Or you can come find me...I'll be on the far side of the room near the PA setup.

Please only RSVP "Yes"...this just gives us an idea of how many folks from our group are coming.


Throughout history, comets have been of great interest to scientists and the general public. They were mysterious, ephemeral objects that, like planets, move in an otherwise unchanging celestial sphere, but unlike planets they would suddenly appear, brighten, grow glorious tails, then fade to apparently disappear forever. In past centuries comets were thought to be signs of the fall of nations, the death of kings, impending war, and disease. Aristotle argued comets were hot, dry exhalations gathered in the atmosphere and occasionally burst into flame. Even in more recent times they were seen with a sense of awe and fear: when Halley's comet appeared in 1910 the public was frightened by the pronouncements that the Earth would pass through the comet's tail of poisonous cyanogen gas, and today we grapple with the real concern that comets can and do collide with the Earth from time to time.

As scientists began to study comets they discovered that they were messengers from deep space, providing us with valuable information about the history of our solar system. Comets are some of the leftover debris from the formation of planets, and they provide ways to understand what the content and environment of the solar system was like billions of years ago. Comets have been kept in deep freeze in reservoirs like the Kuiper belt and the Oort Cloud, so they can be used to study those distant reaches of our solar system. They also are a source of water to the planets in the inner solar system such as Earth. For these reasons, comets have been the target of study by scientists using ground- and space-based observatories.

Now, the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission, one of the most exciting and challenging space missions to date, will visit a comet and fly along to study it for an extended period of time, and even drop a lander on the comet's surface. Rosetta will arrive at comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August of this year after flying more than a decade in space to catch up with the comet. In this Cafe Scientifique, we will start with an overview of the Rosetta mission, the spacecraft and lander, the science that will be done, and the complex operations it takes not just to get there but also the difficulties of spending more than a year in the life of a comet as it passes the Sun. That brief overview then will be followed by Q&A and discussions with the audience.