BBC star to give Dublin lecture on historic Rosetta space mission

International astronomer, Dr Colin Snodgrass will explain how the mission has changed our understanding of comets, asteroids and the formation of the Solar System

BBC star to give Dublin lecture on historic Rosetta space mission

A model of orbiter Rosetta hangs from the ceiling in a conference room at the European Space Agency ESA in Darmstadt, Germany. 30-Sep-2016 Image: Michael Probst AP/Press Association Images

Trinity College is welcoming the star of BBC Four’s The Sky at Night to Dublin for a special talk on the historic Rosetta mission.

The mission made international headlines in 2014 when it became the first to successfully drop a “lander” onto the surface of a comet.

The 12-year undertaking ended in spectacular fashion in September when scientists steered the probe into a crash-landing on comet 67P.

The mission - aiming to gain a deeper understanding of comets and the origins of the solar system - was the largest ever undertaking by the European Space Agency (ESA).

In a special Christmas lecture for Astronomy Ireland, Internationally recognised astronomer and BBC presenter Dr Colin Snodgrass will explain how Rosetta’s fascinating research has changed our understanding of comets, asteroids and the formation of the solar System some 4.5 billion years ago.

Scientists have long considered comets and asteroids to be entirely different celestial bodies. In the aftermath of the Rosetta mission however, such absolute distinctions have under scrutiny. 

Dr Snodgrass will outline how scientists increasingly regard comets and asteroids as parts of a spectrum and explain how they can provide invaluable information about the earliest days of our Solar System and its evolution into the shape it holds today.

“The Rosetta mission took around 30 years to plan, build, and send to a comet,” said Dr Snodgrass.

“Now that it has ended, we are already in the process of planning the next generation of missions to explore comets and asteroids - seeking answers to questions that we didn't even know existed before Rosetta.”

Dr Snodgrass will also provide insights into two potential future missions: Castalia, which aims to investigate the ‘Main Belt Comets’, and CASTAway which intends to explore the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. 

Entitled ‘Where next after Rosetta? Comets, asteroids, and some confused objects in between,’ the lecture is open to the public and will take place on Monday, December 12th in the Physics Building at Trinity College.

Tickets are available at astronomy.ie.