Rosetta commissioning in final stages
All of Rosetta's 11 science instruments and the lander Philae have now been successfully switched on! But the data are still being analysed to confirm the mission's readiness for science operations, so the commissioning period is not officially complete until those final reports from the instrument teams are in (this is expected to take place on 13 May, and we'll provide another update then).
The instrument commissioning period lasted for an intense six weeks, with each instrument assigned dedicated timeslots to be put through their paces. Some of the instruments behaved a little erratically at first (who wouldn't after being woken up after a nearly three-year sleep), which required a few of the observations to be repeated towards the end of the commissioning period. For example, see the most recent blog contribution from the RPC-ICA instrument team for the challenges they encountered.
Now all of the instruments have been successfully reactivated and the necessary measurements have been taken. Some were also treated to software upgrades – read more about COSIMA's upgrade here, and MIDAS here.
The majority of instruments have since been switched back off until the science readiness reviews are complete and Rosetta is closer to comet 67P/CG, but OSIRIS and the spacecraft's NavCams continue to take images for navigation purposes. OSIRIS is also taking lightcurve measurements to determine the comet's rotation period.
Final preparations are now being made for a series of rendezvous manoeuvres that will bring the spacecraft closer to the comet, ready for arriving at 67P/CG in August; as of today, there's just over 2 million kilometres to go. A separate blog entry will be posted in the next week to outline in more detail these critical manoeuvres.