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: Amazing raw Cassini images from this week

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Australian amateur Terry Lovejoy discovers new comet

Aug 20, 2014

It's confirmed! Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy just discovered his fifth comet, C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy). He found it August 17th using a Celestron C8 fitted with a CCD camera at his roll-off roof ...

Orbital cargo ship makes planned re-entry to Earth

Aug 18, 2014

Orbital Sciences Corporation's unmanned Cygnus cargo ship disintegrated as planned Sunday as it re-entered Earth's atmosphere after a month-long resupply mission to the International Space Station.

Monitoring meteor showers from space

Aug 13, 2014

Those who enjoy the spectacle of the Perseids, Geminids or other annual meteor showers likely aren't thinking about where these shooting stars originated or whether they might pose a danger. Scientists, however, ...

Fear not the Moon, Perseids always a great show

Aug 11, 2014

Get ready for the darling of meteor showers this week—the Perseids. Who can deny their appeal? Not only is the shower rich with fiery flashes of meteoric light, but the meteors come in August when the weather's ...

Recommended for you

Amazing raw Cassini images from this week

6 hours ago

When Saturn is at its closest to Earth, it's three-quarters of a billion miles away—or more than a billion kilometers! That makes these raw images from the ringed planet all the more remarkable.

Europe launches two navigation satellites

6 hours ago

Two satellites for Europe's rival to GPS were lifted into space on Friday to boost the Galileo constellation to six orbiters of a final 30, the European Space Agency (ESA) said.

SpaceX gets 10-year tax exemption for Texas site

6 hours ago

Cameron County commissioners have agreed to waive 10 years of county taxes as part of an agreement bringing the world's first commercial site for orbital rocket launches to the southernmost tip of Texas.

Voyager map details Neptune's strange moon Triton

8 hours ago

(Phys.org) —NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft gave humanity its first close-up look at Neptune and its moon Triton in the summer of 1989. Like an old film, Voyager's historic footage of Triton has been "restored" ...

How the sun caused an aurora this week

9 hours ago

On the evening of Aug. 20, 2014, the International Space Station was flying past North America when it flew over the dazzling, green blue lights of an aurora. On board, astronaut Reid Wiseman captured this ...

User comments : 0