Rosetta monitors Deep Impact

Jun 20, 2005
Rosetta monitors Deep Impact

ESA’s comet chaser Rosetta will take part in one of the world’s largest astronomical observation campaigns - the Deep Impact event - while on its cruise to Comet 69P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta will be watching from 29 June to 14 July 2005.

Image: Artist's impression of the Rosetta spacecraft

Deep Impact is a NASA mission to send a 370 kg copper ‘impactor’ probe to Comet 9P/Tempel 1 on 4 July 2005. Tempel 1 is a short-period comet, whose orbit runs between those of Mars and Jupiter. There is scientific interest in comets because their composition carries important information about the origin of the Solar System, as they have remained basically unchanged since then.
Rosetta, with its set of very sensitive instruments for cometary investigations, will use its capabilities to observe Tempel 1 before, during and after the impact. At a distance of about 80 million kilometres from the comet, which will be lying about 90 degrees from the Sun, Rosetta will be in the most privileged position to observe the event from space.

The observing geometry will be favourable for observations with Rosetta’s microwave spectrometer, MIRO, and the VIRTIS visual and IR mapping spectrometer. MIRO will concentrate on the chemical composition and temperature of the gas. VIRTIS will analyse thermal emission by the comet to determine the composition of the dust ejected, and thus reveal the comet’s mineralogy.

In addition, Rosetta will be the spacecraft carrying the best available ultraviolet instrument, ALICE, to monitor the event. ALICE will analyse the gas coming from the impact and tell about its chemical composition.

The Rosetta OSIRIS imaging system will also provide images of the comet’s nucleus from a far-away distance. Scientists also hope to make a 3D reconstruction of the dust cloud around the comet by combining the OSIRIS images with those taken from ground observatories.

Rosetta’s observations will provide a unique data set complementary to the observations from the Deep Impact spacecraft and the ground-based telescopes. Before impact, Rosetta will observe Tempel 1 during three full rotations of the comet around its axis. This allows characterising the variations of the comet’s state over rotation and time, and preparing for the observations during and after impact.

Rosetta will look at the comet continuously. In the initial phase (starting on 29 June 01:34 CEST), when the comet is expected to change only slowly due to its rotation, Rosetta will take the time to study or ‘dwell’ on several areas on the coma of Tempel 1.

About fifteen minutes before impact (due at 07:44 CEST), Rosetta will start observing the comet with shorter dwell time, as fast changes are expected due to the impact. At 09:19, about one hour and a half after impact, Rosetta will go back to the monitoring mode as before the impact for 10 more days.

Rosetta will contribute to the major objectives of the Deep Impact mission.

The spacecraft’s instruments will measure the composition of the crater and its ejected material – a cloud of dust and gas cloud expected to expand and reach its maximum brightness about 10 hours after impact. Rosetta will also monitor the changes in the natural outgassing of the comet following the impact.

With these observations, Rosetta may also help to confirm if the impact has permanently triggered new activity on the comet.

Source: ESA

Explore further: Planet 'reared' by four parent stars

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A recipe for returning Pluto to full planethood

Feb 20, 2015

A storm is brewing, a battle of words and a war of the worlds. The Earth is not at risk. It is mostly a civil dispute, but it has the potential to influence the path of careers. In 2014, a Harvard led debate ...

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.

Rosetta data reveals more surprises about comet 67P

Jan 22, 2015

As the Rosetta spacecraft orbits comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, an international team of scientists have discovered that the comet's atmosphere, or coma, is much less homogenous than expected and comet ...

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 ...

Recommended for you

Planet 'reared' by four parent stars

11 hours ago

Growing up as a planet with more than one parent star has its challenges. Though the planets in our solar system circle just one star—our sun—other more distant planets, called exoplanets, can be reared ...

Image: Training for Sentinel-2A launch

Mar 04, 2015

On 25 February, the Sentinel-2A Mission Control Team at ESOC, ESA's mission operations centre, Darmstadt, Germany, commenced simulation training for the critical launch and early orbit phase.

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.