History of Science: „Rosetta“ delivers more pictures
Image 1: Spacecraft "Rosetta"
When you surf the internet today on science websites, you'll probably stumble upon the news, that the spacecraft Rosetta
by the European Space Agency, that was crashed intentionally almost exactly one year ago (30th september 2016) onto the comet Tschurjumow-Gerassimenko
, still has delivered a picture that was now published by the scientists: it shows the landing place from a distance of 20 meters and give us a more detailed view on the surface of the comet. This "late" surprise was caused by a software malfunction: the data size of the picture was too small, so the algorithm for image detecting just didn't recognized it earlier.
More information (german): https://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/ESA-Sonde-Rosetta-Ueberraschend-neues-allerletztes-Foto-gefunden-3846784.html
The comet "Tschurjumow-Gerassimenko" was named after the scientists that found it: Klym Tschurjumow und Swetlana Gerassimenko . But what's more interesting - for my opinion - is the naming of the spacecraft including the peripheral devices. ;)
- Rosetta - the spacecraft itselft that landed on the comet
- Philae - the landing station with scientific laboratory
- Osiris - the camera of the spacecraft
Part 1: ROSETTA
But why has the ESA, the European Space Agency, chosen the name "Rosetta"? The institution once said, mutatis mutandis, that the "stone of Rosetta" once was a milestone for the cultural history, because with the discovery of that stone we were able to decipher the ancient egyptian hieroglyphs.
So the ESA expected its spacecraft "Rosetta" to make similar pioneering findings - but in a cosmic dimension.
Further reading: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Rosetta/Why_Rosetta
The Stone of Rosetta
Image 2: The "Stone of Rosetta"
And indeed: the discovery of the "Stone of Rosetta" 1799, which consisted of an inscription in three languages: hieroglyphs, demotic and ancient greek, should lead to the deciphering of the ancient language. At that time nobody could read hieroglyphs and most of the people thought of it as a "secret language with mysterious messages". But then - Jean Francois Champollion came, a brilliant linguist from France, and he found out that there were some names of pharaos mentioned in the greek version. By comparing the greek with the hieroglyphs he detected that the typical pharaonic names were written in a so called "cartouche", a name ring that - as we know today - meant safety and protection for the king in eternity. From there he went further and translated almost the whole text around 1822. As a result we can now say, that hieroglyphs are a mix of image-script and a complex grammar.
But what sounds so easy here, took years of intensive study and consumed most of the life energy of Champollion. He died at a very young age of 41.
Naming of the stone itself
The "Stone of Rosetta" was a decree of high priests and is probably just the lower part of a big stela. It was named after the place where it was found: Rosetta. Rosetta and Damietta are two main arms of the nile that formed shape of the nile delta with its sub-arms. (see map below).
Today the "Stone of Rosetta" is on display in the British Museum in London.
Image 3: Map with the places the two main nile arms
The next part will be about Philae, the sunken island...
Image 1: Source
Image 2: Source
Image 3: Source