Rosetta (spacecraft)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

OperatorEuropean Space Agency
Major contractorsEuropean Space Agency
Mission typeComet Orbiter/Lander
Flyby ofEarth, Mars, 2867 Šteins, 21 Lutetia
Satellite of67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko
Launch dateMarch 2, 2004 at 07:17 UTC
Launch vehicleAriane 5G+
Mission duration8 years, 7 months and 15 days elapsed
Orbital decayN/A
COSPAR ID2004-006A
Jump to: navigation, search
OperatorEuropean Space Agency
Major contractorsEuropean Space Agency
Mission typeComet Orbiter/Lander
Flyby ofEarth, Mars, 2867 Šteins, 21 Lutetia
Satellite of67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko
Launch dateMarch 2, 2004 at 07:17 UTC
Launch vehicleAriane 5G+
Mission duration8 years, 7 months and 15 days elapsed
Orbital decayN/A
COSPAR ID2004-006A

Rosetta is a robotic spacecraft of the European Space Agency on a mission to study the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

Rosetta consists of two main elements: the Rosetta space probe and the Philae lander. The spacecraft was launched on 2 March 2004 on an Ariane 5 rocket and will reach the comet by mid 2014. The space probe is intended to orbit and perform long-term exploration of the comet at close quarters. On 10 November 2014 the Philae lander will attempt to land and perform detailed investigations on the comet's surface. Both the probe and the lander carry a large complement of scientific experiments designed to complete the most detailed study of a comet ever attempted.[1]

The probe is named after the Rosetta Stone, as it is hoped the mission will help form an idea of how the solar system looked before planets formed. The lander is named after the Nile island Philae where an obelisk was found that helped decipher the Rosetta Stone. The spacecraft has already performed two successful asteroid flyby missions on its way to the comet.[2] In 2007, Rosetta performed a Mars swingby (flyby), and returned images.[3] The craft completed its fly-by of asteroid 2867 Šteins in September 2008 and of 21 Lutetia in July 2010,[4] and is presently in "hibernation" mode and on-target for its final destination.[5] The spacecraft will remain in this state until 20 January 2014 when the hibernation exit sequence will be initiated.[6]

In 2007, as it approached Earth for a fly-by, the spacecraft was briefly designated a minor planet 2007 VN84 due to it being misidentified as an asteroid (see below).


Mission timeline

This is the planned timeline for the mission after its launch:

Rosetta's current location can be found on the ESA website.[7]


During the 1986 apparition of the Comet Halley, a number of international space probes were sent to explore the cometary system, most prominent among them being ESA's highly successful Giotto. After the probes returned a treasure-trove of valuable scientific information it was becoming obvious that follow-ons were needed that would shed more light on the complex cometary composition and resolve the newly opened questions.

Both NASA and ESA started cooperatively developing new probes. The NASA project was the Comet Rendezvous Asteroid Flyby (CRAF) mission. The ESA project was the follow-on Comet Nucleus Sample Return (CNSR) mission. Both missions were to share the Mariner Mark II spacecraft design, thus minimizing costs. In 1992, after NASA axed CRAF due to budgetary limitations, ESA decided to develop a CRAF-style project on its own. By 1993 it was evident that the ambitious sample return mission was unfeasible with the existing ESA budget, so the mission was redesigned, with the final flight plan resembling the canceled CRAF mission, an asteroid flyby followed by a comet rendezvous with in-situ examination, including a lander.

Rosetta was built in a clean room according to COSPAR rules, but "Sterilisation [was] generally not crucial since comets are usually regarded as objects where you can find prebiotic molecules, that is, molecules that are precursors of life, but not living microorganisms, "[8] according to Gerhard Schwehm, Rosetta's Project Scientist.

It was set to be launched on January 12, 2003 to rendezvous with the comet 46P/Wirtanen in 2011.

Trajectory of the Rosetta Space Probe

However, this plan was abandoned after a failure of the planned launch vehicle Ariane 5 on December 11, 2002. A new plan was formed to target the comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko, with launch on February 26, 2004 and rendezvous in 2014. The larger mass and the resulting increased impact velocity made modification of the landing gear necessary.[9] After two cancelled launch attempts, Rosetta was launched on March 2, 2004 at 7:17 GMT. Besides the changes made to launch time and target, the mission profile remains almost identical.

The first flyby of Earth occurred on March 4, 2005.

On February 25, 2007, the craft was scheduled for a low-altitude bypass of Mars, to correct the trajectory after the first launch in 2003 was delayed by one year. This was not without risk, as the estimated altitude of the flyover manoeuvre was a mere 250 km (155 miles). During that encounter the solar panels could not be used since the craft was in the planet's shadow, where it would not receive any solar light for 15 minutes, causing a dangerous shortage of power. The craft was therefore put into standby mode, with no possibility to communicate, flying on batteries that were originally not designed for this task.[10] This Mars manœuvre was therefore nicknamed "The Billion Euro Gamble".[11] Fortunately, the flyby was successful and the mission continued as planned.[12]

The second Earth flyby occurred on November 13, 2007.[13][14]

The spacecraft performed a close flyby of asteroid 2867 Šteins on September 5, 2008. Its onboard cameras were used to fine-tune the trajectory, achieving a minimum separation of less than 800 km (497 miles). Onboard instruments measured the asteroid from August 4 to September 10. Maximum relative speed between the two objects during the flyby was 8.6 km/s (19,240 mph).[15]

The asteroid's orbit was known before Rosetta's launch, from ground-based measurements, to an accuracy of approximately 100 km. Information gathered by the onboard cameras beginning at a distance of 24 million km will be processed at ESA's Operation Center to refine the asteroid's position in its orbit to a few kilometers.

Rosetta's third and final flyby of Earth happened on November 12, 2009.[16]

In May 2014, the Rosetta craft will enter a slow orbit around the comet and gradually slow down in preparation for releasing a lander that will make contact with the comet itself. The lander, named "Philae", will approach Churyumov–Gerasimenko at relative speed around 1 m/s and on contact with the surface, two harpoons will be fired into the comet to prevent the lander from bouncing off. Additional drills are used to further secure the lander on the comet.

Once attached to the comet, expected to take place in November 2014, the lander will begin its science mission:

The exact surface layout of the comet is currently unknown and the orbiter has been built to map this before detaching the lander. It is anticipated that a suitable landing site can be found, although few specific details exist regarding the surface.


Computer model of Rosetta probe


The spectroscopical investigation of the core is done by four instruments.

The interior of the comet is probed by the CONSERT instrument.

Gas and particles

Solarwind interaction

Major events and discoveries








Misidentification as an asteroid

In November 2007, during its second flyby, the Rosetta spacecraft was mistaken for a dangerous near-Earth asteroid and given the designation 2007 VN84. Based upon images taken by a 0.68-meter telescope of the Catalina Sky Survey, an astronomer 'discovered' the spacecraft and misidentified it as an asteroid about 20 meters in diameter, and performed a trajectory calculation showing that it would make its closest flyby of the Earth at a distance of 5,700 kilometers on November 13, 2007. This extremely close approach (in astronomical terms) led to speculation that 2007 VN84 might be at risk of impacting the Earth.[41] However, astronomer Denis Denisenko recognized that the trajectory matched that of the Rosetta probe, which was performing a flyby of Earth en route to its rendezvous with a comet.[42] The Minor Planet Center later confirmed in an editorial release that 2007 VN84 was actually the spacecraft.[43]


  1. ^ Rosetta at a glance (4 October 2010) - ESA
  2. ^ Glassmeier K. H., Boehnhardt H., Koschny D., Kührt E., Richter I. (2007). "The ROSETTA Mission: Flying towards the Origin of the Solar System". Space Sci. Rev. 128: 1–21. Bibcode 2007SSRv..128....1G. doi:10.1007/s11214-006-9140-8. 
  3. ^ ESA - Beautiful new images from Rosetta’s approach to Mars: OSIRIS UPDATE
  4. ^ Jonathan Amos - Asteroid Lutetia has thick blanket of debris (4 October 2010) - BBC News
  5. ^ "Rosetta comet probe enters hibernation in deep space". ESA. June 8, 2011. Retrieved June 8, 2011. 
  6. ^ Status Report archive
  7. ^
  8. ^ No bugs please, this is a clean planet! (31 July 2002) [1]. Retrieved 7 March 2007.
  9. ^ Ulamec S, Espinasse S, Feuerbacher B, Hilchenbach M, Moura D, Rosenbauer H, Scheuerle H, Willnecker R (2006). "Rosetta Lander - Philae: Implications of an alternative mission". Acta Astronautica 58: 435–441. doi:10.1016/j.+actaastro.2005.12.009. 
  10. ^ ESA - Space Science - Rosetta correctly lined up for critical Mars swingby
  11. ^ Europe set for billion-euro gamble with comet-chasing probe[dead link] February 23, 2007 archived version
  12. ^ ESA - Rosetta - Stunning view of Rosetta skimming past Mars
  13. ^ MPS: Press Release 15/2007
  14. ^ Science plans for Rosetta's Earth flyby - The Planetary Society Blog | The Planetary Society
  15. ^ Aviation Week & Space Technology, Vol.169 No. 10, Sept. 15 2008, "First Asteroid", p. 18
  16. ^ "Rosetta makes final home call". BBC News. November 12, 2009. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  17. ^ Uwe Meierhenrich: Amino Acids and the Asymmetry of Life. Springer-Verlag (2008), ISBN 978-3-540-76885-2
  18. ^ S. A. Stern, D. C. Slater, J. Scherrer, J. Stone, M. Versteeg, M. F. A'Hearn, J. L. Bertaux, P. D. Feldman, M. C. Festou, J. Wm. Parker, O. H. W. Siegmund (2006). "Alice: The Rosetta Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph". Astrophysics 128: 507–527. arXiv:astro-ph/0603585. Bibcode 2007SSRv..128..507S. doi:10.1007/s11214-006-9035-8. 
  19. ^ S. A. Stern, D. C. Slater, J. Scherrer, M. F. A'Hearn, J. L. Bertaux, P. D. Feldman, M. C. Festou, O. H. W. Siegmund. [ "Alice: The Rosetta Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph"]. Archived from the original on 20070117215905. 
  20. ^ Thomas., N.; Keller, H. U.; Arijs, E.; Barbieri, C.; Grande, M.; Lamy, P.; Rickman, H.; Rodrigo, R.; Wenzel, K.-P.; A'Hearn, M. F.; Angrilli, F.; Bailey, M.; Barucci, M. A.; Bertaux, J.-L.; Brieß, K.; Burns, J. A.; Cremonese, G.; Curdt, W.; Deceuninck, H.; Emery, R.; Festou, M.; Fulle, M.; Ip, W.-H.; Jorda, L.; Korth, A.; Koschny, D.; Kramm, J.-R.; Kührt, E.; Lara, L. M.; Llebaria, A.; Lopez-Moreno, J. J.; Marzari, F.; Moreau, D.; Muller, C.; Murray, C.; Naletto, G.; Nevejans, D.; Ragazzoni, R.; Sabau, L.; Sanz, A.; Sivan, J.-P.; Tondello, G. (1998). "OSIRIS-the optical, spectroscopic and infrared remote imaging system for the Rosetta Orbiter". Advances in Space Research 21 (11): 1505–1515. Bibcode 1998AdSpR..21.1505T. doi:10.1016/S0273-1177(97)00943-5. 
  21. ^ Coradini, A.; Capaccioni, F.; Capria, M. T.; Cerroni, P.; de Sanctis, M. C.; Magni, G.; Reininger, F.; Drossart, P.; Barucci, M. A.; Bockelee-Morvan, D.; Combes, M.; Crovisier, J.; Encrenaz, T.; Tiphene, D.; Arnold, G.; Carsenty, U.; Michaelis, H.; Mottola, S.; Neukum, G.; Schade, U.; Taylor, F.; Calcutt, S.; Vellacott, T.; Venters, P.; Watkins, R. E.; Bellucci, G.; Formisano, V.; Angrilli, F.; Bianchini, G.; Saggin, B.; Bussoletti, E.; Colangeli, L.; Mennella, V.; Fonti, S.; Tozzi, G.; Bibring, J. P.; Langevin, Y.; Schmitt, B.; Combi, M.; Fink, U.; McCord, T.; Ip, W.; Carlson, R. W.; Jennings, D. E.. "VIRTIS Visible Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer for Rosetta Mission". Lunar and Planetary Science 27: 253. 
  22. ^ Kofman, W., A. Herique, J-P. Goutail, T. Hagfors, I. P. Williams, E. Nielsen, J-P. Barriot, Y. Barbin, C. Elachi, P. Edenhofer, A-C. Levasseur-Regourd, D. Plettemeier, G. Picardi, R.Seu, V. Svedhem (2007). "The Comet Nucleus Sounding Experiment by Radiowave Transmission (CONSERT). A short description of the instrument and of the commissioning stages". Space Science Reviews 128: 413–432. Bibcode 2007SSRv..128..413K. doi:10.1007/s11214-006-9034-9. 
  23. ^ Balsiger H, Altwegg K, Arijs E, Bertaux JL, Berthelier JJ, Bochsler P, Carignan GR, Eberhardt P, Fisk LA, Fuselier SA, Ghielmetti AG, Gliem F, Gombosi TI, Kopp E, Korth A, Livi S, Mazelle C, Reme H, Sauvaud JA, Shelley EG, Waite JH, Wilken B, Woch J, Wollnik H, Wurz P, Young DT (1998). "Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for ion and neutral analysis-ROSINA". Advances in Space Research 21 (11): 1527–1535. Bibcode 1998AdSpR..21.1527B. doi:10.1016/S0273-1177(97)00945-9. 
  24. ^ BRiedler W, Torkar K, Rudenauer F, Fehringer M, Schmidt R, Arends H, Grard RJL, Jessberger EK, Kassing R, Alleyne HS, Ehrenfreund P, Levasseur-Regourd AC, Koeberl C, Havnes O, Klock W, Zinner E, Rott M (1998). "The MIDAS experiment for the Rosetta mission". Advances in Space Research 21 (11): 1547–1556. Bibcode 1998AdSpR..21.1547R. doi:10.1016/S0273-1177(97)00947-2. 
  25. ^ C. Engrand, J. Kissel, F. R. Krueger, P. Martin, J. Silén, L. Thirkell, R. Thomas, K. Varmuza (2006). "Chemometric evaluation of time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry data of minerals in the frame of future in situ analyses of cometary material by COSIMA onboard ROSETTA". Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 20 (8): 1361–1368. doi:10.1002/rcm.2448. PMID 16555371. 
  26. ^ Bussoletti, E.; Colangeli, L.; Lopez Moreno, J. J.; Epifani, E.; Mennella, V.; Palomba, E.; Palumbo, P.; Rotundi, A.; Vergara, S.; Girela, F.; Herranz, M.; Jeronimo, J. M.; Lopez-Jimenez, A. C.; Molina, A.; Moreno, F.; Olivares, I.; Rodrigo, R.; Rodriguez-Gomez, J. F.; Sanchez, J.; Mc Donnell, J. A. M.; Leese, M.; Lamy, P.; Perruchot, S.; Crifo, J. F.; Fulle, M.; Perrin, J. M.; Angrilli, F.; Benini, E.; Casini, L.; Cherubini, G.; Coradini, A.; Giovane, F.; Grün, E.; Gustafson, B.; Maag, C.; Weissmann, P. R. (1999). "The GIADA Experiment for Rosetta Mission to Comet 46P/Wirtanen: Design and Performances". Advances in Space Research 24 (9): 1139–1148. Bibcode 1999AdSpR..24.1139B. doi:10.1016/S0273-1177(99)80207-5. 
  27. ^ Trotignon JG, Bostrom R, Burch JL, Glassmeier KH, Lundin R, Norberg O, Balogh A, Szego K, Musmann G, Coates A, Ahlen L, Carr C, Eriksson A, Gibson W, Kuhnke F, Lundin K, Michau JL, Szalai S (1999). "The ROSETTA Plasma Consortium: Technical realization and scientific aims". Advances in Space Research 24 (9): 1149–1158. Bibcode 1999AdSpR..24.1149T. doi:10.1016/S0273-1177(99)80208-7. 
  28. ^ Glassmeier, K. H., Richter, I., Diedrich, A., Musmann, G., Auster, H. U., Motschmann, U., Balogh, A., Carr, C., Cupido, E., Coates, A., Rother, M., Schwingenschuh, K., Szegö, K., Tsurutani, B. (2007). "RPC-MAG: The Fluxgate Magnetometer in the ROSETTA Plasma Consortium". Space Sci. Rev. 128: 649–670. Bibcode 2007SSRv..128..649G. doi:10.1007/s11214-006-9114-x. 
  29. ^ E. Montagnon, P. Ferri (2006). "Rosetta on its way to the outer solar system". Acta Astronautica 59: 301–309. doi:10.1016/j.+actaastro.2006.02.024. 
  30. ^ ESA Portal - Rosetta camera view of Tempel 1 brightness
  31. ^ ESA - Rosetta - Rosetta lander measures Mars' magnetic environment around close approach
  32. ^ ESA - Rosetta - Beautiful new images from Rosetta’s approach to Mars: OSIRIS UPDATE
  33. ^ ESA Multimedia Gallery
  34. ^ Rosetta's Swing Lessons (8 February 2007) [2]. Retrieved 7 March 2007.
  35. ^ ESA - Rosetta - Rosetta successfully swings-by Mars – next target: Earth
  36. ^ "Encounter of a different kind: Rosetta observes asteroid at close quarters". ESA Rosetta News. Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  37. ^ "Last visit home for ESA’s comet chaser". ESA Operations News. Retrieved 2009-11-08. 
  38. ^ Snodgrass, Colin; Tubiana, Cecilia; Vincent, Jean-Baptiste; Sierks, Holger; Hviid, Stubbe; Moissl, Richard; Boehnhardt, Hermann; Barbieri, Cesare et al. (2010). "A collision in 2009 as the origin of the debris trail of asteroid P/2010?A2". Nature 467 (7317): 814–6. doi:10.1038/nature09453. PMID 20944742. 
  39. ^ "Mysterious Asteroid Unmasked By Space Probe Flyby". Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  40. ^ "Rosetta comet probe enters hibernation in deep space [3]". ESA. 
  41. ^ Skymania News | Space headlines: 'Deadly asteroid' is a spaceprobe
  42. ^ That's no near-Earth object, it's a spaceship! - The Planetary Society Blog | The Planetary Society
  43. ^ "M. P. E. C. 2007-V70 - Editorial notice". Minor Planet Electronic Circular. Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 2007-11-10. 

External links