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Rosetta Spacecraft - History in the making

Successful Landing - First spacecraft to deploy a robot lander for a soft touch-down on a comet.

landed, Wednesday 12 November 2014

You can watch a replay of the live broadcast from the ESA of Rosetta and its lander ‘Philae’

You can also select from a selection of broadcast by using the arrow on the left and right of the screen once you have pressed play.

Image of the lander Philae taken by Mother Ship Rosetta

 

 

Mother spaceship Rosetta released the lander Philae at 09:03 UT-GMT/10:03 CE. After a seven-hour tense descent to the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, there was a signal confirming the successful touchdown which arrived back on Earth at 16:03 UT/GMT (17:03 CET).

diagram credit; NASA. (some slight modifications to date format by eclipsegeeks.com)

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Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko

 

Image by the navigation camera on the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft during the second half of October 2014.

 

Distance of less than 6 miles /10 km from the surface. 

 

 

 

ESA’s Science Programme Committee approved the International Rosetta Mission in November 1993 as a Cornerstone Mission in ESA's Horizons 2000 science program.

 

02 March, 2004; Launch: Rosetta was launched into an orbit that enabled it to follow Earth’s orbit around the Sun for about a year.

 

04 March, 2005; First Earth Flyby: Rosetta caught up with Earth and then executed the first of its four gravity assists (three from Earth and one from Mars). This first gravity assist boosted Rosetta toward Mars for its meeting in 2007.

 

On route to Mars, Rosetta's instruments analysed the collision between Deep Impact's impactor and comet Tempel-1 on July 4, 2005.

 

25 February, 2007; Mars flyby: Rosetta executed a close flyby of Mars, which provided the gravity assist it needed to loop back toward Earth for a second flyby in November 2007.

 

13 November, 2007; Second Earth flyby. Rosetta executed its second Earth flyby, gaining the gravity assist it needed to pass Mars' orbit and reach the asteroid belt.

 

05 September, 2008; Rosetta passed within 1700 km of asteroid Steins, enabling its instruments to closely observe the flying rock.

 

13 November 2009, Third Earth flyby

 

10  July, 2010; Rosetta flew within 3000 km of asteroid Lutetia, and again used its instruments to observe at close range this asteroid, ten times larger than Steins.

 

08 June, 2011; Enter Deep Space Hibernation. Rosetta was drifting through areas in the outer solar system where the sun is almost a billion km away. At that distance, Rosetta’s solar panels were not able to gather much energy from the Sun, so the spacecraft shut down most electrical activities and hibernated until comet C-G returned from its long transit in the outer solar system.

 

20 January, 2014; Exit Deep Space Hibernation. Rosetta fired its engine to head for comet C-G

 

May - August 2014; Rosetta made comet rendezvous manoeuvres.

 

06 August, 2014. Rendezvous with comet 67P/C-G

 

12 November 2014; Philea Landing. Rosetta successfully released lander Philae for a controlled soft landing on comet 67P/C-G. Harpoons did not deploy. Philea soft landed but drifted upwards for 1 hour 50 minutes and travelled about 1 km at a speed of 38 cm/s. It landed again and then made a smaller second hop, travelling at about 3 cm/s for approximately 7 minutes, and then touched-down for the third time. Next stage; transmit critical data from the surface of the comet back to Earth.

 

13 August 2015, Perihelion with the Sun (Closest Approach to Sun).

 

Late 2015; 31 December 2015. Nominal Mission Ends. Rosetta will continue to orbit comet 67P (67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko) until all fuel is exhausted, and will occur after perihelion (closest point to the Sun) where it will terminate its mission.

Rosetta Trajectory and Time Line

At a distance of 500 million km / 310 million miles.

Successful Separation of the lander Philae from mother ship Rosetta.

 

An amazing photograph of Rosetta.

Ambition the film - European Space Agency, ESA

 

Ambition the film. Congratulations to ESA (European Space Agency) on landing on a comet 500 million Km / 310 million miles from Earth. For our species to survive we need the ability to make positive use of our Solar System and to colonise other planets. Landing on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is an historic moment, it's another great leap forward in the exploration of Space, achieving what was once thought impossible. Hollywood science fiction is now Science Fact. We are one planet, one people.  This is a great 6 minute entertainment video to inspire.

 

Reason for selecting Rosetta and Philae as names.

 

Why was the Spacecraft named Rosetta?

Why was the lander named Philae?

 

The Rosetta spacecraft is named after the ancient Rosetta Stone from London’s British Museum.

 

Philae lander’s name.

The Philae lander is named after the Philae Obelisk, which together with the Rosetta Stone, gave the first key to the understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs.

image credit: Rosetta/ESA

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Comet: 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

 

First ever image taken from the surface of a comet, 13 November 2014.

 

Touchdown was confirmed at ESA’s Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany at 16:03 GMT/17:03 CET on 12 November 2014.

 

At more than 500 million km / 310 million miles distance Rosetta’s lander Philae sits safely on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. One of Philae’s three legs can be seen in the foreground. The image is a two-image mosaic captured by Philae’s CIVA (Comet Infrared and Visible Analyser) which is a set of cameras split into two groups.

 

Three Touchdowns for Lander Philae

First touchdown was inside the predicted landing-site area, however the lander's harpoons did not deploy and Philae drifted up from the surface again for 1 hour 50 minutes and travelled about 1 km at a speed of 38 cm/s. It landed again and then made a smaller second hop, travelling at about 3 cm/s for approximately 7 minutes, and then touched-down for the third time.

Rosetta Spacecraft Journey to Comet 67P/C-G

Rosetta's Lander 'Philae' lands on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

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Mother spaceship Rosetta released the lander Philae at 09:03 UT-GMT/10:03 CE.

Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM  (click to enlarge)

image credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

click comet 67P/C-G to enlarge

 

What’s in a name?  Why is the comet named…

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

(or for short; Comet 67P/C-G)

 

Comets are traditionally named after the people that made the discovery.

 

Klim Churyumov and Svetlana Gerasimenko, are the astronomers from Kiev who discovered the comet for the first time in 1969 on a photographic plate.

 

‘P’  identifies short-period comets with a well-established orbit around the Sun and that take less than 200 years to complete a solar revolution.

 

‘67’ means it was the 67th periodic comet to be discovered and is its position in the list of catalogued periodic comets. For example the famous comet, Halley, is designated 1P.

Philae is sleeping. 15 November update.

 

With batteries depleted and not enough sunlight available to recharge its batteries, Philae has gone into idle-mode and all instruments and most systems on board have shut down.

 

However, the lander ‘Philae’ completed its primary science mission after nearly 57 hours on Comet 67P/C-G, and has sent back all of its housekeeping data, including science data from the targeted instruments of; CONSERT, COSAC, Ptolemy, ROLIS, and SD2, which has completed the measurements planned for the final group of experiments on the surface.  

 

Due to its orbit Rosetta lost communication with lander Philae on Friday 14 November 2014 at  09:58 GMT / 10:58 CET, and regained contact with the lander on Friday evening at 22:19 GMT /23:19 CET.  At first the signal was intermittent, but quickly stabilised and remained excellent until communications were lost early Saturday morning 15 November at 00:36 GMT / 01:36 CET.  In an attempt to receive more solar energy, Philae was lifted by approximately 4 cm and rotated by about 35°, but as the last of the science data was fed back to Earth, Philae’s power rapidly depleted and went into hibernation.

 

No further contact will be possible unless sufficient sunlight falls on the solar panels to generate enough power to wake it up. There is the possibility that this may happen later in the mission due to commands sent to Philae that lifted the lander and rotated its main body with its fixed solar panels, which should have exposed more panel area to sunlight. However given the low recharge current available from the solar cells, it is considered unlikely that contact with Philae will be established in the coming days.

 

Stephan Ulamec, manager of lander Philae, from DLR German Aerospace Agency, who monitored the landers progress from ESA’s Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany said,  “We still hope that at a later stage of the mission, perhaps when we are nearer to the Sun, that we might have enough solar illumination to wake up the lander and re-establish communication.”

Stephan said, “It has been a huge success, the whole team is delighted. Despite the unplanned series of three touchdowns, all of our instruments could be operated and now it’s time to see what we’ve got.”

 

Let’s hope for the best and that later during the mission, Philae receives enough solar energy to replenish its batteries and wake up. In the meantime Rosetta will continue to orbit comet 67P/C-G for about two more years gathering vital and important information about the comet, and the changes it undergoes as it approaches perihelion (closest point) with the Sun on 13 August 2015. Rosetta orbiter has been moving back into a 30 km orbit around the comet, and will return to a 20 km orbit on 06 December 2014. During the next few months, Rosetta will start to fly in more distant ‘unbound’ orbits and perform a series of fearless flybys past the comet, some within just 8 km of its centre.

 

Philae is sleeping. 15 November update.

 

With batteries depleted and not enough sunlight available to recharge its batteries, Philae has gone into idle-mode and all instruments and most systems on board have shut down.

 

However, the lander ‘Philae’ completed its primary science mission after nearly 57 hours on Comet 67P/C-G, and has sent back all of its housekeeping data, including science data from the targeted instruments of; CONSERT, COSAC, Ptolemy, ROLIS, and SD2, which has completed the measurements planned for the final group of experiments on the surface.  

 

Lost Communication 15 November update

 

Due to its orbit Rosetta lost communication with lander Philae on Friday 14 November 2014 at  09:58 GMT / 10:58 CET, and regained contact with the lander on Friday evening at 22:19 GMT /23:19 CET.  At first the signal was intermittent, but quickly stabilised and remained excellent until communications were lost early Saturday morning 15 November at 00:36 GMT / 01:36 CET.  In an attempt to receive more solar energy, Philae was lifted by approximately 4 cm and rotated by about 35°, but as the last of the science data was fed back to Earth, Philae’s power rapidly depleted and went into hibernation.

 

Rosetta and Philae 'lander' Latest updates Rosetta and Philae Latest updates Rosetta and Philae Latest updates Rosetta-trajectory-diagram-medium-Eclipse-Geeks

Diagram of the Rosetta Spacecraft's Trajectory

ESA (European Space Agency) amazing three decade planning

and 10 year journey to comet  67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko