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Regular Meeting October 2023

... and we feel like comets moving around in space ...

Our Regular Meeting this October took place in the Tower of the Hotel Leonardo in Frankfurt Sachsenhausen. The elevator took us to the 25th floor, where a bright ambience with a fantastic view over Frankfurt and its surroundings awaited us. In bright sunshine a spectacular view also of the landing airplanes. The decoration team had again done a great job with glittering stars and planets, as always fitting to our lecture.

Prof. Paolo Ferri, long-time head of mission operations at the European Space Agency's (ESA) Satellite Control Center in Darmstadt, told us about his most significant project, the "Rosetta Rendezvous Mission," the first and only mission in history to land on the nucleus of a comet.  He and his ESA team worked on this visionary project for more than 20 years. The goal was to land on comet 67 P Churyumov-Gerasimenko, or Churi, in November 2014. "Rosetta" became the mission of a lifetime for Ferri.

Why "Rosetta?" Where does the name come from? The mission was named "Rosetta" after the ancient Egyptian stone on which three texts were inscribed in three different scripts: hieroglyphic, demotic and Greek. The Greek was easy for the scholars to decipher, and thus the mysterious hieroglyphic languages could finally be deciphered.

After successful landing, dust analysis and over 400,000 images were taken. These data should allow a better understanding of the objects in the universe, the universe as a whole and last but not least the earth. In addition, valuable knowledge was gained for future space missions.

When Prof. Ferri spoke of the probe, he sounded as if he were talking about a beloved child he had sent on a long journey, full of pride but also concerned for its well-being. "Yes, somehow she had really become part of the family, my baby," Prof. Ferri acknowledged. "Rosetta" gave the physicist probably the happiest, most nerve-wracking and also saddest moments of his career.

After a lively discussion that followed, the guests moved on to a delicious buffet. Under a starry sky with a view of the vast heavens, this extremely interesting meeting ended.


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