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DARMSTADT, Germany (AP) -- The European deep space probe Rosetta successfully completed a flyby of an asteroid millions of miles from earth, but its high resolution camera stopped shortly before the closest pass, space officials said Saturday.
Rosetta caught up with the Steins asteroid, also known as Asteroid 2867, just after 8:45 p.m. (1845 GMT) Friday in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The probe came within 500 miles (805 kilometers) of the asteroid - which turned out to be slightly larger than scientists expected.
Officials at the European Space Agency were not sure exactly what caused the camera to balk.
"The software switched off automatically," Gerhard Schwehm, the ESA mission manager and head of solar systems science operations told The Associated Press. "The camera has some software limits and we'll analyze why this happened later."
Another wide angle camera was able to take pictures and send them to the space center, Schwehm said.
At a news conference, Uwe Keller, the principal camera investigator, said despite the camera turning off about nine minutes before its closest approach, it switched back on again later and was now working well. Keller said he did not expect the camera setback to affect the rest of the mission.
Craters of different ages were found on the surface of the gray-colored asteroid, showing a "rich collisional history," Keller said.
The probe recorded more than 23 craters over 200 meters wide, with the biggest being about 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) wide.
According to measurements by the probe, the diamond-shaped asteroid turned out to be 3.1 miles (5 kilometers) in diameter, slightly larger than an earlier estimate of 3 miles (4.8 kilometers).
The Rosetta craft was launched in March 2004 from French Guyana, and is now about 250 million miles (402 million kilometers) from Earth.
Schwehm said the historic mission could give astronomers crucial clues to help them understand the creation of the solar system.
Science team members noted that the Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) appears to have switched to safe mode a few minutes before closest approach, but switched back on after a few hours. The software is programmed to switch to safe mode when certain parameter thresholds are crossed to protect the camera. The team will concentrate investigating the reasons for this anomaly once the science data has been analysed.
Originally posted by peacejet
reply to post by ArMaP
No, it is not the proximity to the asteroid, the other camera was working fine and captured some images but those still images werent available on the esa website and the camera was back online after it had crossed the closest approach, I suspect that the camera had taken something that the public would not like to see and so they are hiding it by saying that it is a software failure.
If the camera took a photo of something that they (ESA, not NASA) did not wanted to show they could have just omitted that there was another camera, nobody would notice that; who knew about both cameras aboard this probe?
Originally posted by ElectroMagnetic Multivers
I suspect that the camera had taken something that the public would love to see!!! but NASA don't want us to see
Originally posted by peacejet
So, how come the first camera alone fail and the second camera work fine
I suspect that the camera had taken something that the public would not like to see and so they are hiding it by saying that it is a software failure.