Landing on a Comet – 27th April 2006

Simeon Barber, who gave tonight’s talk entitled Landing on a Comet, stood in at short notice for Andrew Ball, who was called away to a meeting abroad. His presentation, though, gave no indication of this. During the evening, he outlined the results of past spacecraft mission to comets and gave details of the ROSETTA mission recently launched to rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. He also showed some of the experimental apparatus which he and his team have developed for this mission. This equipment is a remarkable example of miniaturisation, a mass spectrometer which usually occupies a bench being reduced to the size of a coffee cup. The total mass of the equipment on the spacecraft is very strictly limited: hence the need to keep everything as small as possible. A fascinating evening: we hope to invite Simeon back again some time. However, as he became the father of twins a few days after the meeting, he may not have as much spare time in the future!

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