Boosting the accuracy of Rosetta's Earth approach

Oct 19, 2007
Boosting the accuracy of Rosetta's Earth approach
Stunning image taken by the CIVA imaging instrument on Rosetta's Philae lander just 4 minutes before closest approach at a distance of some 1000 km from Mars. A portion of the spacecraft and one of its solar arrays are visible in nice detail. Beneath, the Mawrth Vallis region is visible on the planet’s disk. Mawrth Vallis is particularly relevant as it is one of the areas on the Martian surface where the OMEGA instrument on board ESA's Mars Express detected the presence of hydrated clay minerals - a sign that water may have flown abudantly on that region in the very early history of Mars. Credits: CIVA / Philae / ESA Rosetta

Yesterday, 18 October at 18:06 CEST, the thrusters of ESA’s comet chaser, Rosetta, were fired in a planned, 42-second trajectory correction manoeuvre designed to 'fine tune' the spacecraft's approach to Earth. Rosetta is now approaching Earth for its second planetary swing-by of 2007.

After passing Mars in April 2007, Rosetta is now approaching Earth for the second time - the third of four planetary swing-bys that provide fuel-saving gravitational assists enabling the spacecraft to ultimately reach and cross the orbit of comet 64P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014.

Rosetta's closest approach is predicted for 21:57 CET at a height of 5301 km over the Pacific Ocean and a speed of 45 000 km/h relative to the Earth. The third and last Earth swing-by will take place in November 2009.

Rosetta lines up

"We have a target trajectory for Earth swing-by and regular orbit determinations allow us to decide when to do a correction manoeuvre. Brief burns now allow us to optimise the orbit and make the swing-by more accurate, saving us a lot of precious fuel later on," said Andrea Accommazzo, Rosetta Spacecraft Operations Manager at ESOC. He confirmed that yesterday's manoeuvre results were as expected.

A second trajectory correction slot, on 1 November, may also be used depending on results of an orbit determination scheduled for 30 October.

ESA’s comet chaser

Rosetta will be ESA’s first spacecraft to undertake long-term exploration of a comet at close quarters. The mission consists of a large orbiter, designed to operate for a decade at large distances from the Sun, and a small lander, Philae. Each of these carries a large suite of scientific experiments designed to complete the most detailed study of a comet ever attempted.

After entering orbit around Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014, the spacecraft will release the lander onto the icy nucleus. It will then spend the next two years orbiting the comet as it heads towards the Sun. On the way to Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Rosetta has received gravity assists from Earth and Mars, and will fly past two main-belt asteroids – Steins (September 2008), and Lutetia (July 2010).

Source: European Space Agency

Explore further: India tests long-range missile from mobile launcher

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cassini catches Titan naked in the solar wind

Jan 29, 2015

(Phys.org)—Researchers studying data from NASA's Cassini mission have observed that Saturn's largest moon, Titan, behaves much like Venus, Mars or a comet when exposed to the raw power of the solar wind. ...

Getting to know Rosetta's comet

Jan 23, 2015

Rosetta is revealing its host comet as having a remarkable array of surface features and with many processes contributing to its activity, painting a complex picture of its evolution.

Gullies on Vesta suggest past water-mobilized flows

Jan 23, 2015

(Phys.org)—Protoplanet Vesta, visited by NASA's Dawn spacecraft from 2011 to 2013, was once thought to be completely dry, incapable of retaining water because of the low temperatures and pressures at its ...

Rosetta data give closest-ever look at a comet

Jan 22, 2015

On Nov. 12, 2014, the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission made history when its Philae lander touched down on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. While this exciting technical achievement ...

NEOWISE—a yearlong look at the sky

Jan 20, 2015

NASA's Near-Earth Object Wide-field Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) spacecraft discovered and characterized 40 near-Earth objects (NEOs) in the first year after the mission was re-started in December 2013. Eight ...

Recommended for you

Japan launches new spy satellite

5 hours ago

Japan on Sunday successfully launched a back-up spy satellite, its aerospace agency said, after cancelling an earlier lift-off due to bad weather.

NASA launches satellite to measure soil moisture

5 hours ago

NASA on Saturday launched a new Earth-observing satellite that aims to give scientists high-resolution maps showing how much moisture lies in soil in order to improve climate forecasts.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.