Rosetta (spacecraft)

Rosetta (spacecraft)

Name = Rosetta

Organization = European Space Agency
Major_Contractors = European Space Agency
Mission_Type = Comet Orbiter/Lander
Flyby_Of = Earth, Mars, 2867 Šteins, 21 Lutetia
Satellite_Of = 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
Launch = March 2, 2004 at 07:17 UTC
Launch_Vehicle = Ariane 5
Decay = N/A
Mission_Duration =
Mass =
Webpage = [ ESA-Rosetta]
Semimajor_Axis =
Eccentricity =
Inclination =
Orbital_Period =
Apoapsis =
Periapsis =
Orbits =

Rosetta is a European Space Agency-led robotic spacecraft mission launched in 2004, intended to study the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta consists of two main elements: the Rosetta space probe and the Philae lander. The spacecraft will also flyby and examine two asteroids on its way to the comet.

The probe is named after the Rosetta Stone, as it is hoped the mission will help unlock the secrets of how our solar system looked before planets formed. The lander is named after the Nile island Philae where an obelisk was found that helped decipher the Rosetta Stone.

Mission timeline

This is the planned timeline for the mission after its launch:
*First Earth flyby (March 2005)
*February 25 2007 Mars flyby
*November 13 2007 Second Earth flyby
*September 5 2008 - flyby of asteroid 2867 Šteins
*Third Earth flyby (November 2009)
*July 10 2010 - flyby of asteroid 21 Lutetia
*Deep-space hibernation (May 2011 - January 2014)
*Comet approach (January-May 2014)
*Comet mapping / Characterisation (August 2014)
*Landing on the comet (November 2014)
*Escorting the comet around the Sun (November 2014 - December 2015)


During the 1986 apparition of the Comet Halley, a number of international space probes were sent to explore the cometary system, most prominent among them being ESA's highly successful Giotto. After the probes returned a treasure-trove of valuable scientific information it was becoming obvious that follow-ons were needed that would shed more light on the complex cometary composition and resolve the newly opened questions.

Both NASA and ESA started cooperatively developing new probes. The NASA project was the Comet Rendezvous Asteroid Flyby or CRAF mission. The ESA project was the follow-on Comet Nucleus Sample Return (CNSR) mission. Both missions were to share the Mariner Mark II spacecraft design, thus minimizing costs. In 1992, after NASA axed CRAF due to budgetary limitations, ESA decided to develop a CRAF-style project on its own. By 1993 it was evident that the ambitious sample return mission was unfeasible with the existing ESA budget, so the mission was redesigned, with the final flight plan resembling the canceled CRAF mission, an asteroid flyby followed by a comet rendezvous with in-situ examination, including a lander.

Rosetta was built in a clean room according to COSPAR rules, but "Sterilisation [was] generally not crucial since comets are usually regarded as objects where you can find prebiotic molecules, that is, molecules that are precursors of life, but not living microorganisms," [No bugs please, this is a clean planet! (31 July 2002) [] accessed 7 March 2007] according to Gerhard Schwehm, Rosetta's Project Scientist.

It was set to be launched on January 12, 2003 to rendezvous with the comet 46P/Wirtanen in 2011.

However this plan was abandoned after a failure of the planned launch vehicle Ariane 5 on December 11, 2002. A new plan was formed to target the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, with launch on February 26, 2004 and rendezvous in 2014. The larger mass and the resulting increased impact velocity made modification of the landing gear necessary. [cite journal| title= Rosetta Lander - Philae: Implications of an alternative mission
author= Ulamec S, Espinasse S, Feuerbacher B, Hilchenbach M, Moura D, Rosenbauer H, Scheuerle H, Willnecker R|journal= Acta Astronautica|volume= 58 |pages= 435–441| year= 2006| doi=10.1016/j.actaastro.2005.12.009
] After two cancelled launch attempts, Rosetta was launched on March 2, 2004 at 7:17 GMT. Besides the changes made to launch time and target, the mission profile remains almost identical.

The first flyby of Earth occurred on March 4, 2005.

On February 25 2007, the craft was scheduled for a low-altitude bypass of Mars, to correct the trajectory after the first launch in 2003 was delayed by one year. This was not without risk, as the estimated altitude of the flyover manoeuvre was a mere 250 km (155 miles). During that encounter the solar panels could not be used since the craft was in the planet's shadow, where it would not receive any solar light for 15 minutes, causing a dangerous shortage of power. The craft was therefore put into standby mode, with no possibility to communicate, flying on batteries that were originally not designed for this task. [ [ ESA - Space Science - Rosetta correctly lined up for critical Mars swingby ] ] This Mars manœuvre was therefore nicknamed "The Billion Dollar Gamble". [] Fortunately, the flyby was successful and the mission now continues. [ [ ESA - Rosetta - Stunning view of Rosetta skimming past Mars ] ]

The second Earth flyby occurred on November 13, 2007. [ [ MPS: Press Release 15/2007 ] ] [ [ Science plans for Rosetta's Earth flyby - The Planetary Society Blog | The Planetary Society ] ]

The spacecraft performed a close flyby of asteroid 2867 Steins on September 5, 2008. Its onboard cameras were used to fine-tune the trajectory, achieving a minimum separation of less than 800 km (497 miles). Onboard instruments measured the asteroid from August 4 to September 10. Maximum relative speed between the 2 objects during the flyby was 8.6 km/sec (19,240 mph). [Aviation Week & Space Technology, Vol.169 No. 10, Sept. 15 2008, "First Asteroid", p. 18]

The asteroid's orbit was known before Rosetta's launch, from ground-based measurements, to an accuracy of approximately 100 km. Information gathered by the onboard cameras beginning at a distance of 24 million km will be processed at ESA's Operation Center to refine the asteroid's position in its orbit to a few km. This navigation technique was conceived by the American Eugene F. Lally of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory presented in his paper "Mosaic Guidance for Interplanetary Travel" in 1961 at the annual American Rocket Society meeting in New York. Lally's concept used onboard cameras to determine spacecraft location versus target planets, asteroids and comets to refine navigation information and to program onboard corrective trajectory maneuvers.

In May 2014, the "Rosetta" craft will enter a slow orbit around the comet and gradually slow down in preparation for releasing a lander that will make contact with the comet itself. The lander, named "Philae", will approach Churyumov-Gerasimenko at relative speed around 1 m/s and on contact with the surface, two harpoons will be fired into the comet to prevent the lander from bouncing off. Additional drills are used to further secure the lander on the comet.

Once attached to the comet, expected to take place in November 2014, the lander will begin its science mission:

  • Characterisation of the nucleus
  • Determination of the chemical compounds present
  • Study of comet activities and developments over time

The exact surface layout of the comet is currently unknown and the orbiter has been built to map this before detaching the lander. It is anticipated that a suitable landing site can be found, although few specific details exist regarding the surface.



The spectroscopical investigation of the core is done by four instruments:
*ALICE (An Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer). The UV spectrometer should search for the abundance of noble gas in the comet core, from which the temperature during the comet creation could be estimated. The detection is done by an array of potassium bromide and caesium iodide photocathodes. The 3.1 kg instrument uses 2.9 Watt and was produced in the USA, and an improved version is used in the New Horizons. [cite journal|author=S.A. Stern, D.C. Slater, J. Scherrer, J. Stone, M. Versteeg, M.F. A'Hearn, J.L. Bertaux, P.D. Feldman, M.C. Festou, J.Wm. Parker, O.H.W. Siegmund|title=Alice: The Rosetta Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph |journal=Astrophysics, abstract| url=] [cite journal|author=S.A. Stern, D.C. Slater, J. Scherrer, M.F. A'Hearn, J.L. Bertaux, P.D. Feldman, M.C. Festou, O.H.W. Siegmund|title=Alice: The Rosetta Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph | url=]
*OSIRIS (Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System). The camera system consisting of a narrow angle (700 mm) and a wide angle camera (140 mm), with an 2048x2048 pixel CCD chip each will take pictures of the comets. The instrument was constructed in Germany. [cite journal| title=OSIRIS-the optical, spectroscopic and infrared remote imaging system for the Rosetta Orbiter|author=Thomas., N.; Keller, H. U.; Arijs, E.; Barbieri, C.; Grande, M.; Lamy, P.; Rickman, H.; Rodrigo, R.; Wenzel, K.-P.; A'Hearn, M. F.; Angrilli, F.; Bailey, M.; Barucci, M. A.; Bertaux, J.-L.; Brieß, K.; Burns, J. A.; Cremonese, G.; Curdt, W.; Deceuninck, H.; Emery, R.; Festou, M.; Fulle, M.; Ip, W.-H.; Jorda, L.; Korth, A.; Koschny, D.; Kramm, J.-R.; Kührt, E.; Lara, L. M.; Llebaria, A.; Lopez-Moreno, J. J.; Marzari, F.; Moreau, D.; Muller, C.; Murray, C.; Naletto, G.; Nevejans, D.; Ragazzoni, R.; Sabau, L.; Sanz, A.; Sivan, J.-P.; Tondello, G.|journal= Advances in Space Research|volume= 21|pages= 1505–1515| doi= 10.1016/S0273-1177(97)00943-5| year=1998| unused_data=|year1998]
*VIRTIS (Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer). The Visible and IR spectrometer is able to make pictures of the core in the IR and also search for IR spectra of molecules in the coma. The detection is done by a mercury cadmium teluride array for IR and with a CCD chip for the Visible range. The instrument was produced in Italy, and improved versions were used for Dawn and Venus express. [cite journal |title=VIRTIS Visible Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer for Rosetta Mission| author=Coradini, A.; Capaccioni, F.; Capria, M. T.; Cerroni, P.; de Sanctis, M. C.; Magni, G.; Reininger, F.; Drossart, P.; Barucci, M. A.; Bockelee-Morvan, D.; Combes, M.; Crovisier, J.; Encrenaz, T.; Tiphene, D.; Arnold, G.; Carsenty, U.; Michaelis, H.; Mottola, S.; Neukum, G.; Schade, U.; Taylor, F.; Calcutt, S.; Vellacott, T.; Venters, P.; Watkins, R. E.; Bellucci, G.; Formisano, V.; Angrilli, F.; Bianchini, G.; Saggin, B.; Bussoletti, E.; Colangeli, L.; Mennella, V.; Fonti, S.; Tozzi, G.; Bibring, J. P.; Langevin, Y.; Schmitt, B.; Combi, M.; Fink, U.; McCord, T.; Ip, W.; Carlson, R. W.; Jennings, D. E.|journal =Lunar and Planetary Science| volume= 27|pages = 253]
*MICRO (Microwave Instrument for the Rosetta Orbiter). With the microwave emissions the temperature and the abundance of volatile substances (like water, ammonia and carbon dioxide) can be detected. The 30 cm Radio antenna was constructed in Germany, while the rest of the 18.5 kg instrument was provided by the USA.

The radar tomography of the nucleus is performed by:
*CONSERT (Comet Nucleus Sounding Experiment by Radiowave Transmission). The CONSERT experiment is the only experiment on board the ROSETTA mission which will provide information about the deep interior of the comet. The Consert radar will perform the tomography of the nucleus by measuring electromagnetic wave propagation from the Philae lander and the Rosetta orbiter throughout the comet nucleus in order to determine its internal structures and to deduce information on its composition. The lander and orbiter electronics was provided by France and both antennas were constructed in Germany. [cite journal|author= Kofman, W., A. Herique, J-P. Goutail, T. Hagfors, I. P. Williams, E. Nielsen, J-P. Barriot, Y. Barbin, C.Elachi, P. Edenhofer, A-C. Levasseur-Regourd, D. Plettemeier, G . Picardi, R.Seu, V. Svedhem |title= The Comet Nucleus Sounding Experiment by Radiowave Transmission (CONSERT). A short description of the instrument and of the commissioning stages |journal= Space Science Reviews |volume= 128 |pages=413–432 | year= 2007 | doi= 10.1007/s11214-006-9034-9]

Gas and particles

*ROSINA (Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis). The instrument consists a double focus magnetic mass spectrometer DFMS and a reflectron type time of flight mass spectrometer RTOF. The DFMS has a high resolution (can resolve N2 from CO) for molecules up to 300amu. The RTOF is highly sensitive for neutral molecules and for ions. [cite journal| title= Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for ion and neutral analysis-ROSINA| author= Balsiger H, Altwegg K, Arijs E, Bertaux JL, Berthelier JJ, Bochsler P, Carignan GR, Eberhardt P, Fisk LA, Fuselier SA, Ghielmetti AG, Gliem F, Gombosi TI, Kopp E, Korth A, Livi S, Mazelle C, Reme H, Sauvaud JA, Shelley EG, Waite JH, Wilken B, Woch J, Wollnik H, Wurz P, Young DT|journal= Advances in Space Research| volume = 21|pages=1527–1535|year= 1998|doi=10.1016/S0273-1177(97)00945-9 } ]
*MIDAS (Micro-Imaging Dust Analysis System). The high resolution atomic force microscope will investigate the dust particles which are deposited on a silicone plate. [cite journal| title= The MIDAS experiment for the Rosetta mission| author= BRiedler W, Torkar K, Rudenauer F, Fehringer M, Schmidt R, Arends H, Grard RJL, Jessberger EK, Kassing R, Alleyne HS, Ehrenfreund P, Levasseur-Regourd AC, Koeberl C, Havnes O, Klock W, Zinner E, Rott M|journal= Advances in Space Research| volume = 21|pages=1547–1556|year= 1998|doi=10.1016/S0273-1177(97)00947-2 } ]
*COSIMA (Cometary Secondary Ion Mass Analyser). Composition of dust particles is analysed, after the surface is cleaned by indium ions, by secondary ion mass spectrometry. Ions up to a mass of 4000 amu is possible. [cite journal| title= Chemometric evaluation of time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry data of minerals in the frame of future in situ analyses of cometary material by COSIMA onboard ROSETTA|author=C. Engrand, J. Kissel, F. R. Krueger, P. Martin, J. Silén, L. Thirkell, R. Thomas, K. Varmuza|journal= Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry|volume= 20|pages=1361–1368|doi=10.1002/rcm.2448| year= 2006]

olarwind interaction

*GIADA (Grain Impact Analyser and Dust Accumulator) [cite journal|title= The GIADA Experiment for Rosetta Mission to Comet 46P/Wirtanen: Design and Performances| author= Bussoletti, E.; Colangeli, L.; Lopez Moreno, J. J.; Epifani, E.; Mennella, V.; Palomba, E.; Palumbo, P.; Rotundi, A.; Vergara, S.; Girela, F.; Herranz, M.; Jeronimo, J. M.; Lopez-Jimenez, A. C.; Molina, A.; Moreno, F.; Olivares, I.; Rodrigo, R.; Rodriguez-Gomez, J. F.; Sanchez, J.; Mc Donnell, J. A. M.; Leese, M.; Lamy, P.; Perruchot, S.; Crifo, J. F.; Fulle, M.; Perrin, J. M.; Angrilli, F.; Benini, E.; Casini, L.; Cherubini, G.; Coradini, A.; Giovane, F.; Grün, E.; Gustafson, B.; Maag, C.; Weissmann, P. R.|journal= Advances in Space Research|volume= 24|pages=1139–1148|doi=10.1016/S0273-1177(99)80207-5 |year= 1999]
*RPC (Rosetta Plasma Consortium) [cite journal|title= The ROSETTA Plasma Consortium: Technical realization and scientific aims| author= Trotignon JG, Bostrom R, Burch JL, Glassmeier KH, Lundin R, Norberg O, Balogh A, Szego K, Musmann G, Coates A, Ahlen L, Carr C, Eriksson A, Gibson W, Kuhnke F, Lundin K, Michau JL, Szalai S|journal= Advances in Space Research|volume= 24|pages=1149–1158|doi=10.1016/S0273-1177(99)80208-7 |year= 1999]

Major events and discoveries


*March 2 - ESA's "Rosetta" mission is successfully launched at 07:17 GMT (08:17 Central European Time). The launcher successfully placed its upper stage and payload into an eccentric coast orbit (200 x 4000 km). About two hours later, at 09:14 GMT, the upper stage ignited its own engine to reach an escape velocity in order to leave the Earth’s gravity field and enter heliocentric orbit. The Rosetta probe was released 18 minutes later. ESA’s Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, established contact with the probe shortly after that.

*May 10 - The first and most important deep space maneuver was successfully executed and brings the space craft on its correct course, with a reported inaccuracy of 0.05%.


*March 4 - "Rosetta" executed its first planned close flyby of Earth. The Moon and the Earth's magnetic field were used to test and calibrate the instruments on board of the spacecraft. The minimum altitude above the Earth's surface was about 1954.7 km at 22:09 UTC and images of the space probe passing by were captured by amateur astronomers. [cite journal|title= Rosetta on its way to the outer solar system| author= E. Montagnon, P. Ferri|journal= Acta Astronautica|volume=59 |year= 2006 |pages=301–309|doi= 10.1016/j.actaastro.2006.02.024]

*July 4 - Imaging instruments on board observed the collision between the comet Tempel 1 and the impactor of the Deep Impact mission. [ [ ESA Portal - Rosetta camera view of Tempel 1 brightness ] ]


*February 25 -- Mars swing-by. Philae's ROMAP (Rosetta Lander Magnetometer and Plasma Monitor) instrument measures the complex Martian magnetic environment, [ [ ESA - Rosetta - Rosetta lander measures Mars' magnetic environment around close approach ] ] while Rosetta's OSIRIS (Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System) took various images of the planet using different photographic filters. [ [ ESA - Rosetta - Beautiful new images from Rosetta’s approach to Mars: OSIRIS UPDATE ] ] While in Mars' shadow most of the instruments were turned off the Philae lander was autonomously running on batteries. During this operation the ÇIVA instrument on the lander took pictures of Mars. [ [ ESA Multimedia Gallery ] ] [Rosetta's Swing Lessons (8 February 2007) [] accessed 7 March 2007] Among others, both actions were meant to test the spacecraft's instruments while the probe needed the gravity of Mars to change directions in order to undertake its second Earth flyby in November. [ [ ESA - Rosetta - Rosetta successfully swings-by Mars – next target: Earth ] ]
*November 8 -- As Rosetta approached the Earth for its second flyby scheduled for November 13, it was observed by a 0.68 meter telescope of the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona as a moving object on survey images from November 7 and its positions were reported to the Minor Planet Center. After additional observations on November 8 the Minor Planet Center misidentified the spacecraft as a Near Earth Object on a course that would bring it within 0.89 earth radii from the surface of the Earth and gave it the provisional designation asteroid 2007 VN84. Following a suggestion on a news group, the misidentification was corrected and the asteroid designation was cancelled one hour and 16 minutes later. [cite web |url= |title=M.P.E.C. 2007-V70 |accessdate=2007-11-10 |format= |work=Minor Planet Electronic Circular|publisher=Minor Planet Center ]


*September 5 -- Flyby of asteroid 2867 Steins


External links

* [ Rosetta website]
* [ Rosetta operations site]
* [ ESA's Rosetta Swing-by Blog] - covering Earth swing-by, 13 November 2007
* [ Rosetta Mission Profile] by [ NASA's Solar System Exploration]
* [ SpaceflightNow: Rosetta awakes from hibernation for asteroid flyby]
* [ Rosetta Lander] an article by Andrew J Ball, 1997. (currently displays 404 error.)
* [ animation] showing images of Rosetta's March 4, 2005 flyby of Earth.
*de icon [ Experiments] All onboard experiments.
* [ Parallax demonstration with Rosetta flyby]
* [ Space probe performs Mars flyby]
* [ Rosetta Mistaken For Asteroid]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Rosetta space probe timeline — Rosetta is a space probe aiming to rendezvous with the comet 67P/Churyumov Gerasimenko. This page records a detailed timeline of this mission.Timeline2004February*February 16 mdash; Rosetta was placed on top of an Ariane 5 rocket at the Guiana… …   Wikipedia

  • Rosetta (disambiguation) — Rosetta may refer to:As a placename: * Rosetta, the anglicised name of the city of Rashid, Egypt, famous as the location of the Rosetta Stone * Rosetta, Tasmania, suburb of Hobart, Tasmania, Australia * Rosetta, Belfast in Northern IrelandAs a… …   Wikipedia

  • Spacecraft Velocity Anomalies — refers to unexplained variances in the velocity of multiple spacecraft, where the spacecraft are traveling faster than expected or can so far be accounted for, relative to Earth orbit. Although the effect exists with spacecraft in orbits roughly… …   Wikipedia

  • Rosetta Stone — For other uses, see Rosetta Stone (disambiguation). The Rosetta Stone in the British Museum The Rosetta Stone is an ancient Egyptian granodiorite stele …   Wikipedia

  • Rosetta mission — #REDIRECT Rosetta (spacecraft) …   Wikipedia

  • Spacecraft — Spaceship redirects here. For other uses, see Spaceship (disambiguation). More than 100 Russian Soyuz manned spacecraft (TMA version shown) have flown since 1967, originally for a Soviet manned lunar program, but currently supporting the… …   Wikipedia

  • Deep Impact (spacecraft) — For other uses, see Deep Impact (disambiguation). Deep Impact Artist s conception of the Deep Impact space probe after impactor separation. Operator NASA / JPL Major contractors Ball Aerospace, JPL …   Wikipedia

  • Dawn (spacecraft) — Dawn Artist s concept of Dawn with Vesta (left) Ceres (right) (the proximity of Vesta to Ceres is not to scale.) Operator NASA Major contractors Orbital Sciences, JPL, UCLA …   Wikipedia

  • Solar panels on spacecraft — Spacecraft operating in the inner solar system usually rely on the use of photovoltaic solar panels to derive electricity from sunlight. In the outer solar system, where the sunlight is too weak to produce sufficient power, radioisotope thermal… …   Wikipedia

  • Champollion (spacecraft) — For other uses, see Champollion (disambiguation). Champollion was a planned cometary rendezvous and landing spacecraft. It was named after Jean François Champollion, a French Egyptologist known for translating the Rosetta stone. Rosetta surface… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.