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 more than 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 outer-space 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 begin orbiting the icy space rock in August and send the 220-pound lander Philae to its surface in November.
“Glad to hear we’re on our way!” the lander tweeted (@Philae2014) after Rosetta woke up.
Using gravity like a slingshot, Rosetta has made three flybys of Earth and one of Mars to push it toward its historic rendezvous.
After being put into hibernation in June 2011, the spacecraft had operated on solar power, and only its main computer and some heaters stayed on to keep it alive, 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) and 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”
Rosetta and Philae will travel with the comet around the sun and back into deep space before their mission ends in December 2015.